One night my best bud and I watched a movie called “Hidden Figures” on a night when all that we really craved for was to get away from the hustle and bustle and the hectic demands of work and mummy duties. This was supposed to be our down time to enjoy a mindless diversion and focus on something a lot less demanding than our daily tasks. That night, however, changed my life!
I had always been one to speak up and support girl power and women empowerment but the movie “Hidden Figures” stirred up a lot more emotion, conviction and sense of purpose in me than I could have ever imagined.
Before I get lost in my ramblings, let me tell those of you who have not had the honour and privilege of watching this outstanding movie, a little bit about it. The movie, is based on a book also entitled “Hidden Figures: The Untold Story of the African American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race” written by Margot Lee Shetterly. It tells of the hidden historical lives of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson who were three black American female mathematicians involved in the launch of John Glenn, the Astronaut, into orbit during the Space Race in the 1950s. These women had to face a lot of challenges and obstacles which could have easily derailed them from fulfilling their purpose and unleashing their God-given talents, the main ones being racial segregation and gender discrimination. They beat the odds and fought hard to make their mark in a truly historic event.
I remember growing up, that one of my dreams was to become either an astronaut or a pilot. I was fascinated by the clouds, the sky and what was beyond the planet Earth. After watching “Hidden Figures”, I remembered with so much pain and regret those dreams that I had discarded choosing instead to focus on more “feminine”, “acceptable”, “realistic” and “safer” ambitions.
One of the things that led me to give up on my dreams to soar the skies and to command an aircraft or spacecraft was that I was relentlessly told as I grew older that Science and Technology disciplines were for boys and I was not clever enough nor mentally and physically strong enough to handle the rigours of becoming an astronaut or pilot. To couple it all, I was ridiculed, as a black Zimbabwean girl for even imagining that I had any chance of becoming an astronaut, being from a third world, undeveloped country and all. Sadly, I chose to believe that my dream was indeed impossible.
Now I am more determined than ever to encourage and inspire other women and girls to never give up on their dreams and to please watch this enlightening movie with the hope of unleashing all the hidden dreams and hidden figures hiding away behind fear, discouragement, uncertainty and doubt.
If what I have already shared is not enough to motivate you to watch the movie “Hidden Figures”, well here are some more reasons:
To celebrate the role of Black women in tech through learning of their stories which were never widely shared or conveniently overlooked;
To appreciate the actors who serve as technical role models to women and girls while disrupting the stereotypes of female ingenuity in computing;
To highlight the gaps in the participation of women in technology related fields; and
To find inspiration if you are interested in the STEM fields.
Here’s to unleashing the hidden figures and the hidden gems that God created us to be! Never give up on your dreams or your passion!