Figuras Tectas

Title is Latin for “hidden figures” 😉

I just came from watching a screening of the movie, Hidden Figures and… I feel so inspired by these women.

Okay first off, there was this lady sitting right in front of me who would not just sit stiff. AND she overreacted to everything that happened in the movie. She found every single thing funny, and when things were actually funny, she wouldn’t laugh. She danced to every single song and… it was just alot. I was so distracted by her. Even a girl behind me commented on the fact that not everything in the movie was funny…

But BESIDES that, the movie was absolute art.

I loved that it was based on a true story, the idea that these women are finally being recognized  for all the work they did for NASA (Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson). It’s crazy just how much we go through history knowing some of the big-shot names, the huge supervisors of it all, yet the people working behind the magic are not recognized. For example, Rosalind Franklin is hardly ever mentioned in biology textbooks (though, I believe people are working to change that) because she was a woman just working in a lab. But her x-ray picture of DNA helped to ultimately find its true structure. But is she the one credited for it? Nope. Watson and Crick, the people who stole the x-ray picture off of her desk, were the ones who ended up getting the Nobel Prizes for the discovery. In that time, women were not allowed to receive Nobel Peace Prizes. Unfortunately, Franklin was not recognized until after she had died.

I did not even know about her until 9th grade of high school. All that time, I was told “Watson and Crick”, “Watson and Crick discovered DNA!” “Watson and Crick found the helical structure!”

Since the beginning of time, women have been over-worked and under-appreciated for the work they do. This movie just brought up so many more feelings within me about the idea of science and women in science, especially colored women.

These women did some incredible things for NASA. Without Katherine Johnson’s phenomenal mathematical skills, NASA would not have been able to put the first American man into space. Without Dorothy Vaughan, women probably would not fight for the right to demand a higher job title and higher status. Without Mary Jackson, colored women would probably not think it possible to become an aeronautical engineer, or an engineer at that. These women changed America’s (and the world’s) idea of the STEM field. America used to look through a black-and-white lens, but these women put color into it.

Over the past few weeks, I really thought about the idea of being a physics major. After taking physics last semester and being in my second semester, I realized just how much I love the science. It’s the only class that I actually have opened the textbook and actually enjoyed reading it. That has NEVER happened for me in a STEM class. I remember how back in high school, I was actually really good at physics. I was one of the few people in my class (only 3 of us) who passed the AP Physics exam.

Last week, I was walking down the physics hallway, and they showed a picture of their graduates. Their classes are TINY. Their graduating class is about 25 students (compared to my bio graduating class of over , and, to no surprise, they were all white males.

I was a little surprised at how small the department was, because the professors all seem like geniuses in the field, and they are all super enthusiastic about it. I would think that there would be more. NOPE.

I have also always been fascinated by the idea of an engineer, the idea of space, the idea of being able to take someone and send them out of the earth. I thought (and still think) aeronautical engineers are the coolest people on the planet. I remember going to the Aerospace museum in DC over Thanksgiving break 2015 and I was like a fat kid in a candy store.

The place was amazing!

They had airplanes hanging from the sky, biographies of the world’s most renown flights, they even had an entire exhibit dedicated to Amelia Earhart.

Now, no one really knows this, but Amelia Earhart is one of my favorite people in world history. I don’t know what it was, but her disappearance was the most fascinating thing to me. How did she just disappear and no one know where she was? When I was young, I used to come up with alternative ideas as to what may have happened to her. I thought that maybe she decided to reside at a nearby island.

I have always thought, “What if I became a physics major?”

First off, I would be highly under-estimated, like the women in the movie. None of the men thought that these women were worth much. They al prejudged their intelligence only to realize just how important and needed they are in the field.

Anyways, it’s still an idea.

Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green, a black female physicist who is breaking boundaries all over the place in STEM research, is my role model right now (besides Chimamanda Ngozi-Adichie, of course), and she has me thinking, “Why don’t I just change my major?” she was the 76th black female in the US to get a PhD in Physics. I thought that was crazy. Where are the women? Why are the numbers so small?

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