In the 1940s, computers weren't machines, they were people with amazing talents in math. The National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (NASA's predecessor) relied on these computers to take US aeronautics into space. NACA hired four extraordinary women: Dorothy Vaughn, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden. They loved math, they loved their work, and just like the astronauts they helped launch into orbit, they were pioneers as well. Establishing themselves not only as paving the way for women in professional careers, but dismantling stereotypes and prejudice about African Americans as well.
From STEM pioneers to understanding the development of the US space program, there are lots of science-y topics to explore. Hidden Figures also introduces four women who were ahead of their time and offers a front-row seat into the environments and people who influenced their lives.
12 and Up
10 and Up
Borrow for yourself and buy for a young woman interested in STEM.
I saw the movie before I read the book. Both were extraordinary. Which should come first? It's hard to say. The book helped round out some of the details of everyday life at NACA, more background on the four leading ladies, and a better chronology. That said, being able to give Dorothy, Mary, Katherine, and Christine helped keep me from being bogged down by some of that same detail.
If you want true stories of strong women, then you want this book. This is narrative nonfiction at its best. Readers will quickly be drawn into the stories of these four amazing women and want to know more about women in science, history, and aeronautics.