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Hidden Figures Short Summary

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The piece by Margot Lee Shetterly follows the lives of intelligent women referred to as the “human computers.” It begins with Dorothy Vaughan, an intelligent black teacher employed at Langley. She and her colleagues at West Computing face segregation because of their skin color.

Meanwhile, Dorothy Vaughan is also trying to put her life in order while at Langley. There is also Katherine Johnson, an intelligent woman who dropped out of college when she got pregnant for Jimmy Goble. Their fates are intertwined.

The story goes back to Dorothy Vaughan, who is still struggling to make a mark in the male-dominated engineering field. Women are only required to analyze data at the site. Through hard work, Dorothy Vaughan goes on to become the leader of those at the West Computing when their previous leader dies.

The next woman in the story is Mary Jackson, an intelligent math teacher that guides the Girl Scout. She is happy with the girls she is leading because they are aggressive. After working at Langley as a Clerk, she goes on to become a computer. After a while, a scourge of racial discrimination hits Langley, and all the black women are fired. The people in charge of civil rights raise complaints against the mistreatment of blacks, and President Truman calls for equal treatment of all the citizens. Mary Jackson faces a lot of racial slurs from white computers.

The story moves to Katherine Johnson, who decides to move to Langley when she learns that blacks are being employed. She also faces a series of racial discrimination but become friends with her tormentors. Dorothy Vaughan decides to hire Catherine. Catherine genius findings when investigating a plane crash brings a raft of changes in the issues of air control. She is liked at her place of work. To her, racial segregation is not as serious as she has faced them several times. Moreover, the fact that she has light skin confuses people of her origin.

Catherine’s next assignment is the calculation for the space flight by John Glenn. Her calculations determine the success of Apollo 11. Because of their achievements, she becomes more popular.

Mary Jackson takes charge of the Human Resource Department at Nasa. She advocates for career advancement for women. Dorothy Vaughan gets recognition for her achievements at Langley. Because of her hard work, more women are considered for positions available in the fields of mathematics and sciences.

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