On January 13, Misty Stallworth a math teacher at Innovation Central High School in GRPS, took 120 ninth grade girls from her Algebra I class on a special field trip to see the film “Hidden Figures.” Ms. Stallworth shared:
“I am always looking for new ways to inspire my girls in the areas of math and science. This movie was the perfect vehicle to help with that!”
“Hidden Figures,” based on the book written by Margot Lee Shetterly, tells the true story of the hundreds of strong, smart black and white women, who worked for NASA (and its precursor NACA) in the early days of flight and space travel as mathematicians and engineers. These women faced deep-rooted and institutionalized norms of prejudice about the role of women in the work force, their ability to work in stressful jobs and their ability to grasp complex intellectual concepts. For women of color, the barriers were a double whammy of gender and race and kept many talented women from pursuing and realizing their dreams.
In 2016, the gap in opportunity for women in the math and sciences continues to persist.
- Women earned 57.3% of bachelor’s degrees in all fields in 2013 and 50.3% of science and engineering bachelor’s degrees. However, women’s participation in science and engineering at the undergraduate level significantly differs by specific field of study. While women receive over half of bachelor’s degrees awarded in the biological sciences, they receive far fewer in the computer sciences (17.9%), engineering (19.3%), physical sciences (39%) and mathematics (43.1%).
- In 2012, 3.1% of bachelor’s degrees in engineering, 6.5% of bachelor’s degrees in physical sciences, 5.4% of bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and statistics, 4.8% of bachelor’s degrees in computer sciences, 9.7% of bachelor’s degrees in biological sciences, and 14.2% of bachelor’s degrees in social sciences were awarded to minority women (NSF, Women, Minorities, and People with Disabilities in Science and Engineering, 2015).
Role models are essential to help children overcome this opportunity gap. The movie “Hidden Figures” provides an excellent example of role models- three women from NASA that overcame not only their gender, but also racial barriers. Women who were both brilliant and instrumental in helping the United States successfully launch our first manned mission to space. Through their story children can envision their own future.
After seeing the film, Trinity, a 9th grader at Innovation Central walked away inspired:
“I think that the women are inspirational and will inspire me forever. I will never forget them. They helped me as an African American woman feel like I can achieve anything.”
This trip was made possible thanks to in-kind support from Celebration Cinemas and additional funding support from the Student Advancement Foundation.
Sources: National Girls Collaborative Project, https://ngcproject.org/. 2016.