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Kvinnene som inspirerte en hel generasjon
Det er tidlig på 1900-tallet. Mellom USA og Sovjetunionen pågår det et intenst kappløp om verdensrommet. I jakten på kompetent arbeidskraft finner NASA uante talenter hos en gruppe svarte kvinnelige matematikere.
De har alle odds mot seg, men lykkes likevel med å bli ansatt som menneskelige regnemaskiner hos NASA. Kvinnenes avanserte utregninger ligger bak en av de største bedriftene i USAs historie – å sende et menneske til månen.
I Hidden Figures fortelles nå for første gang historien om Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson og Christine Darden.
Shetterly, founder of the Human Computer Project, passionately brings to light the important and little-known story of the black women mathematicians hired to work as computers at the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in Hampton, Va., part of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NASA's precursor). The first women NACA brought on took advantage of a WWII opportunity to work in a segregated section of Langley, doing the calculations necessary to support the projects of white male engineers. Shetterly writes of these women as core contributors to American success in the midst of a cultural "collision between race, gender, science, and war," teasing out how the personal and professional are intimately related. She celebrates the skills of mathematicians such as Dorothy Vaughan, Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Hoover, whose brilliant work eventually earned them slow advancement but never equal footing. Shetterly collects much of her material directly from those who were there, using personal anecdotes to illuminate the larger forces at play. Exploring the intimate relationships among blackness, womanhood, and 20th-century American technological development, Shetterly crafts a narrative that is crucial to understanding subsequent movements for civil rights. A star-studded feature film based on Shetterly's book is due out in late 2016.