The Lowdown: This Hidden Figures Summary is based on the popular book from Margot Lee Shetterly, and it shows how anything is possible, as long as you have determination and can adapt.
Back in the 1960’s, the United States was in a race against the USSR to be the first country to land a spaceship on moon. By winning this particular race, it would help solidify the United States as a World Superpower.
Not only this, but the United States was dealing with its own race issue, but it wasn’t a positional race; rather, it was dealing with escalating racial tensions.
In addition to this, women were entering the workforce at a high rate, which didn’t sit well with the men who sat in the power positions.
Which is what makes this story, Hidden Figures, so fascinating; within this book, you will follow the journey of three African-American women, and see how the actions they took elevated the United States to places the people within the country had only dreamt of going.
The Three Main Lessons you’ll learn from Hidden Figures include:
- Why the United States Needed to win the race to the Moon
- Your skin color should not determine your ability
- Women play an important role within the work environment
Lesson One: Why the United States NEEDED to win the race to the Moon
Back 1963, John F. Kennedy declared to the world that the United States would land someone on the moon before the end of the decade. The United States Space Program, or NASA, was working fervently on making this happen, but it looked bleak. Then, Kennedy was assassinated later that year, which caused the citizens with this nation to want to fulfill this promise.
By being the first country to get to the moon, the United States would propel itself into a World Superpower. If they let the USSR get to the moon first (which, they were closer to this goal in 1963 than the United States), then USSR could flex its own muscle and be the elite Superpower.
With the United States landing on the moon first, it showed they as a country could be the leader among all countries of the world, and helped elevate their economy to new heights, as other countries wanted to do business with a country who wins.
Lesson Two: Your skin color should not determine your ability
Back in the late 1960’s, racial tension was at its highest peak within the United States since the Civil War in the 1860’s. African-Americans wanted more opportunities to excel, but were still met with many road blocks.
The Three women within this book, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, all are African-American women. Despite the many obstacles put in front of them, they are able to overcome them and make a large impact on both America and the Space Program.
Katherine Johnson became a lead mathematician who was counted on to project the trajectory of various space ships launched by the United States.
Dorothy Vaughan learned how to both use and fix one of the earliest versions of a computer, and helped train others (mostly white men) how to use the computer.
Mary Jackson went to college (the only African-American at the college) and became the first African-American woman to work as an engineer at NASA.
These three women did not let the color of their skin determine their ability and worth, and show that no one should be judged based upon their skin color alone.
Lesson Three: Women play an important role within the Work Environment
Back in the 1960’s, most positions of power within the United States were held by men. The President of the country, the Astronauts, the leaders with NASA and many others were all men. It was becoming increasingly harder for them to keep ahold of that power, even though they were only giving women certain roles which had no upward mobility.
These three women broke thru these barriers and paved their own way, and in doing so, showed how the workplace is better when everyone is working together and not worried about gender inequality.
My Personal Takeaway
This book is very inspirational, no matter what gender or race you are.
Seeing the actions these three women take, and the impact their actions had on an entire country, makes me think about what actions I can take which can have this kind of impact.
And then taking this one step further, what if everyone put aside their judgements on race and gender equality and just worked as one? What could we accomplish?
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Put into Action
Work with people who want to work as a team, and propel each other to be successful. We are at our best when people do not care about individual achievements, but rather, what can be accomplished as a group.
You should consider buying this book if…
Hidden Figures is an excellent read for times when you need to find some motivation and want to self-reflect on your own actions and abilities.
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