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Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race

Автором Margot Lee Shetterly


Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race

Автором Margot Lee Shetterly

оценки:
4/5 (112 оценки)
Длина:
487 pages
8 hours
Издатель:
Издано:
Sep 6, 2016
ISBN:
9780062363619

Примечание редактора

Antiracism…

Thanks to Margot Lee Shetterly’s blockbuster book, the black female mathematicians whose calculations were critical to winning the space race in a still-segregated America are a hidden history no more. A crucial story that challenges our conceptions around race and gender.

Описание

From Scribd: About the Book

Long before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, eve before John Glenn orbited the earth, a group of dedicated and intelligent female mathematicians used pencils, slide rulers, and adding machines to calculate and verify the numbers that would help the U.S. win the space race. Among these women known as "human computers" were a group of exceptionally talented African American women, and even though they worked in a different building, they were no less skilled at what they did.

Originally math teachers from various segregated public schools in the south, these women answered NASA's call during the labour shortages of World War II, leaving their professional teaching jobs behind to become computers. Their new place of employment? The Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in Hampton, Virginia; a place where they could finally test the extremes of their skills.

However, even though they were brilliant mathematicians, Virginia's Jim Crow laws still required them to be segregated from their white counterparts. Little did anyone know, it would be Langley's all-black "West Computing" group that would help America achieve a decisive victory over the Soviet Union in both the Cold War and the space race.

Hidden Figures is the story of three women in "West Computing" who contributed to some of NASA's greatest successes, their struggle in their own lives, and their influence on their country's future.
Издатель:
Издано:
Sep 6, 2016
ISBN:
9780062363619

Об авторе

Margot Lee Shetterly grew up in Hampton, Virginia, where she knew many of the women in her book Hidden Figures. She is an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow and the recipient of a Virginia Foundation for the Humanities grant for her research on women in computing. She lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.



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Отзывы критиков

  • Thanks to Shetterly's blockbuster book, the black female mathematicians whose calculations were critical to winning the space race in a still-segregated America are a hidden history no more. A crucial story that challenges our preconceptions.

    Scribd Editors
  • Thanks to Margot Lee Shetterly's blockbuster book, the black female mathematicians whose calculations were critical to winning the space race in a still-segregated America are a hidden history no more. A crucial story that challenges our conceptions.

    Scribd Editors

Отзывы читателей

  • (5/5)
    Margot Lee Shetterly’s Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race traces the women who worked first at NACA, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, that later became NASA. Their work helped develop the planes that won World War II and the rockets that won the Space Race. In addition to tracing their scientific work, Shetterly examines the women’s lives in detail, discussing the educational opportunities they pursued in order to become mathematicians and engineers. Shetterly uses her subjects’ education and work as a case-study for desegregation in education and federal offices.Shetterly writes of postwar changes to federal offices, “Truman issued Executive Order 9980, sharpening the teeth of the wartime mandate that had helped bring West Area Computing into existence. The new law went further than the measure brought to life by A. Philip Randolph and President Roosevelt by making the heads of each federal department ‘personally responsible’ for maintaining a work environment free of discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin” (pg. 104). Discussing the lines of segregation, Shetterly writes, “At Langley, the boundaries were fuzzier. Blacks were ghettoed into separate bathrooms, but they had also been given an unprecedented entrée into the professional world. Some of Goble’s colleagues were Yankees or foreigners who’d never so much as met a black person before arriving at Langley. Others were folks from the Deep South with calcified attitudes about racial mixing. It was all a part of the racial relations laboratory that was Langley, and it meant that both blacks and whites were treading new ground together” (pg. 123). Shetterly points out that Southern segregation limited options for both poor whites and African-Americans. She writes, “Throughout the South, municipalities maintained two parallel inefficient school systems, which gave the short end of the stick to the poorest whites as well as blacks. The cruelty of racial prejudice was so often accompanied by absurdity, a tangle of arbitrary rules and distinctions that subverted the shared interests of people who had been taught to see themselves as irreconcilably different” (pg. 145). Further, “As fantastical as America’s space ambitions might have seemed, sending a man into space was starting to feel like a straightforward task compared to putting black and white students together in the same Virginia classrooms” (pg. 185). In this way, “Virginia, a state with one of the highest concentrations of scientific talent in the world, led the nation in denying education to its youth” (pg. 204).Shetterly brilliantly juxtaposes both the promise of American ingenuity and the cultural place of the space race against the reality of Jim Crow and racial violence. All those looking to reconcile the paradox of America must read this book. This Easton Press edition is gorgeously leather-bound with gilt page edges and signed by the author. It makes a lovely gift for recent college or university graduates studying history.
  • (3/5)
    I absolutely loved the movie and couldn't wait to read the book. It is full of facts and important information, but I sometimes found myself getting confused about the people I was reading about and found I absorbed more information when I read it during the day as opposed to before bed. It is a book that would be a wonderful resource to someone researching the time period or any of the topics covered in the book. A non-fiction read that will provide a clear picture of what NACA and NASA were like during the 1940s-1970s and I learned a lot about the black women (and women in general) who contributed so much to the space program.
  • (4/5)
    Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly is a book not only about strong women but more. It is a book about society, struggles, overcoming prejudices, spirit, strong will, and brains. This is a history lesson for all of us not to repeat mistakes. This book follows a handful of smart and tough women as they work their way through a society rigged against them in every way until they get a small break and they let their brilliance shine. They deserved more credit then but society still wasn't ready and is it still? I wonder watching the news...I am glad they finally got some kind of recognition for their service and tenacity. You go girls!
  • (2/5)
    I had a very difficult time reading this book an the only reason I was able to get as into it as I did was because I had a lot of time on my hands one day and read about 80 pages of the book in that one day. The writing is fine, but it is very boring. The importance of the story is incredibly lost in the writing style and that really bothered me.

    I researched the author around halfway through the book and found that Shetterly said growing up in Langley she thought that being an engineer or human computer was just what black people did. I think this speaks to why the account did not highlight the right information. The author is jaded by seeing black people do amazing things every day.

    I also had an issue with how the civil rights movement was brought into the book. I felt that in the capacity it was presented, it could have just as easily have been left out. Everybody knows (I hope) that segregation went beyond the schools. Segregation in the school was an important element in understanding the story. However, the bathrooms and water fountains did nothing to add to the story. I did not feel like they helped paint a picture of being outcast and lessened as they were likely meant to.

    Finally, there is this issue of being a "double minority"- a woman in STEM and a black woman at that. There are challenges that come with each of those identities, and those challenges are multiplicative when you put them together. However, I felt like the book just highlighted everything these women did well with very little regard for how hard they had to fight at work for the recognition. I am not saying it was absent, because it definitely was not. I am saying that the conviction with which it was described was lacking.

    I would still love to see the movie and I would love to feel confident enough giving this book more than two stars. I just don't feel that I am honestly describing what I felt while I was reading and how I feel looking back on the information in the book if I use any other rating.
  • (4/5)
    Good historical information; insightful perspective from African American woman, interesting development of NASA
  • (4/5)
    There can be no denying this book’s technical references left us all scratching our heads in muddled uncertainty, but then again, none of us claim to be even mediocre mathematicians. So it was decided that the importance of this book stretches past the NASA space race and even the gender gap that existed in the 1950s and 60s. Shetterly’s research into the ‘coloured’ computers that stoically worked under segregation at NASA and the larger community is unprecedented and cannot be downplayed in its significance to a new generation. The racism and segregation laws are far from a surprise to anyone, yet some of our group were newly appalled at how these women were treated and what they had to endure day after day, along with the low pay and lack of basic respect. Many works may have stopped there and rode the whole book on the racism card, but Shetterly goes further with the complete story on what it actually meant for these women to not only secure work at NASA, but to make the educational journey required to put them there. Nothing came easy to any of them and the struggle through the many obstacles laid before them (as women in the workforce) makes for an inspiring read and in our case, a great discussion. There are moments when you can find yourself bogged down in technical speak and bewildering facts and figures, but as a group we believe the book to be an extremely important record of a history that until now was little known. And the value of that alone cannot be discounted for future generations of both women and men.