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Space Race > Hidden Figures - Prologue - Chapter 3

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message 1: by ebookclassics (new)

ebookclassics | 20 comments Discussion for the Epilogue to Chapter 3. What are your initial impression of the book?


message 2: by ebookclassics (new)

ebookclassics | 20 comments Hidden Figures is surprisingly an easy book to read. I thought it might be heavy on facts and information, but written in the narrative non-fiction style, it's a light, entertaining read even with all the facts.

The book begins with the author's prologue. Margot Lee Shetterly describes growing up in Hampton, Virginia surrounded by members of the black community from a wide range of professions, including those who specialized in mathematics, science and engineering. Her own father worked at NASA's Langley Research. She says, "... I thought that's just what black folks did."

Years later, on a visit to Hampton to see her parents, her father describes to her husband the many black women who worked as "computers" at NASA and what they contributed to the field. Hearing their names triggers something for Margot and she begins trying to learn more about these women, and suddenly her book was born.

She says: "I was determined to prove their existence and their talent in a way that meant they would never again be lost to history."

What does the author mean by the above statement? Why is telling the story of the computers so important?

Why do you think the author shares her ignorance of the significance of living in a community of educated black women and men?


message 3: by ebookclassics (new)

ebookclassics | 20 comments These first few chapters establish the work of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the pre-NASA agency, during WWII. In particular, the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory and its ambitious plans to design fast, more efficient aircraft. Hundreds of jobs needed to be filled, including open positions for "computers", typically female mathematicians who helped the engineers crunch numbers. But good candidates were scarce and one particularly progressive personnel officer at Langley and Executive Order 8802 which ordered the desegregation of the defense industry opened up opportunities for black women to apply at NACA.

Unlike the Timeless episode of Space Race, Hidden Figures features several of the successful women who worked at Langley. Readers first follow the story of Dorothy Vaughan from her childhood to her first teaching position. Dorothy applied for two positions at NACA: one for a laundry job at Camp Pickett and one for a mathematical position. What do you think happened next? :)


message 4: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (sarahreadsroyals) | 20 comments ebookclassics wrote: "Discussion for the Epilogue to Chapter 3. What are your initial impression of the book?"

I liked this book so far! I was surprised how it was easy to read for a nonfiction and that's a good thing since heavy facts can be tedious as reading the textbooks for the class. :)

I think the author was trying to tell us that due to her ignorance and thinking that only men do the computers since math is not generally seen as a female's passion in the area of the subject. And it could be due to the environment she grew up in, women stay home and raise the family and see that men would go work and doesn't really think twice how few women indeed hold a job. In addition, she might not know how much people in her community had a higher education. I strongly believe due to her environment factors that combined her ignorance of living in the community of educated people.

Since the history was only focused on the white men's achievements and failures that they are hidden or whitewashed the minorities significant to the history so the author might felt that the process of the developing the computers are very important and the wonderful ladies deserve their story to be told because, without them, we probably won't have the technology that we found today (so Timeless might never be existed on the screen)

I hope my rambling thoughts make sense...


message 5: by ebookclassics (new)

ebookclassics | 20 comments You completely make sense! It's so incredible to believe that if the author didn't write this book, we may never have heard about all of these women and the contribution they made to space flight. A Clockblocker on Twitter said she had watched a documentary about the space race and there was no mention whatsoever of Katherine Johnson or any of the other women.

Hope you're still enjoying the book. I finished it awhile ago, but wasn't sure if I should keep posting about here.


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