When it comes to nonfiction I prefer history and I prefer female centered stories most of the time (hence why my husband calls me a feminazi, he doesn’t actually know he’s a feminist even though I regularly explain that yes he is). So a book about awesome women in history related to the field I work in? Sign me up!
Hidden Figures covers the work done by black female “computers” during the 1940’s – 1960’s at Langley first with the NACA and then NASA. Ms. Shetterly chose to focus specifically on Dorothy Vaughn, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson. Through these three women’s experiences Shetterly shows the evolution of the government/military from completely white technical staff to hiring women to hiring people who are black to allowing those people to advance within their chosen career paths. While there is some science in the book (obviously) Shetterly covers it on a very layman level. Her main interests she covers is the segregation of the south at the time and black women’s roles in society.
It was wonderful. First of all Katherine Johnson was already on my heroes list, but Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson have joined her due to their own innate awesomeness. Learning about the women (of any color) who helped advance STEM is always emotional for me (my chosen career field), but with the added difficulty of not being white their struggle was even harder. Shetterly is direct in her writing, and she wrote a very readable history while making it personal at the same time in the prologue and epilogue as she was born and raised in the area.
My only complaint is that it was too short. I wanted more darn it! And I could have done with more science and explanations of the technology they were working on, but that’s totally not for everyone. That’s just me.
If you’re looking for a new narrative nonfiction about important women at an important moment in history look no further. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Now to wait for the movie to come to streaming…