“Hidden Figures” and Diversity in STEM

Jediael Peterson, Staff Writer

The media portrays people in the STEM field as anti-social, poorly dressed, white males. I believe the way careers in the tech industry are portrayed by the media and the way society views smart women are two primary reasons that so few girls are pursuing a career in STEM-related fields.

For black history month, Sandy Spring’s affinity groups were joined by a couple of black middle schoolers to go see the movie Hidden Figures, a film that showed three black women as important historical figures because of their intelligence and STEM-related contributions.

The film was fulfilling on a deep level. Being a black woman and seeing these black women being front and center in a historical movie was incredibly powerful. The movie depicts the true story of three African-American women, mathematician Katherine Johnson and her two colleagues Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson. The perceived notion of women’s abilities in STEM-related fields is quickly debunked as they put the first American man in space.

As a passionate moviegoer, I have seen many movies with strong female lead. Though they’re great, there’s just something about seeing someone of your gender and skin color break the stereotypes surrounding them to do completely amazing things and become part of history. It was honestly an inspiring film, especially for our group which comprised mainly of middle and high school black girls from a predominantly white school.

I believe that we are shaped by what we see and Hidden Figures is an inspiring film that will hopefully lead black girls to pursue STEM-related jobs. It cannot stand alone. It is important that more projects like this be created; film and representation can be powerful tools to inspire young black girls to pursue this field of study.