Legacy of hidden figures at NASA – Tampa, Florida

Tampa, Florida 2021-03-22 20:23:12 –

Getting humans back and forth into space is a dangerous business. But that was possible in less than a century, thanks to the help of some extraordinary black women known as “hidden figures.”

“My name is Duchess Harris. I’m the co-author of the book Hidden Human Computers: The Black Women of NASA, and my grandmother Miriam Daniel Mann She was one of NASA’s first hidden human computers, “says Harris.

Harris, And a professor of American studies has spent a lot of time studying her grandmother’s legacy.

“The hidden person was a black woman who was NASA’s human computer, and the human computer was a woman who checked the mathematics of a male engineer. This allowed women to become engineers until the mid-1960s. Because it wasn’t done .. “

They were called Human computer This was in front of the IBM mainframe computer. Brian Odom, NASA’s chief historian, states that their calculations are essential for engineers.

“When retrieving all this data from the test, such as wind tunnel tests, all kinds of tests, orbit plots, it was the woman’s job to calculate the numbers to make the calculations,” Odom said. I will. ..

Harris says her grandmother had the opportunity to go to college. This was a big problem considering that it was born only 40 years after slavery was abolished. But a woman of color like her first inevitably invaded the space industry.

“When World War II broke out, NASA needed black women to become computers. There were white women who were well-educated to fill the space needed for men to be deployed for the war. Because it wasn’t, “Harris said.

It brought Mann to the highest paid job a black woman could get at that time.

“She was in the entrance class for 11 black women who passed the civil service exam in 1943, so she went to work with women aged 8, 7, and 6. At the age of 1, 7 I was my mom. “

Harris says his grandmother started work shortly after President Franklin D. Roosevelt racist the work of the federal government, but the physical workspace itself wasn’t. As a result, black women were divided into western areas with “colored” signs to label things like toilets. Mann didn’t like those signs.

“They were actually on the wall and you could slide them down, and she put them in her purse, and she took them home, and my mother and I Uncle laughed at how their parents fight about it for my grandfather Of course she would be in trouble, would be fired, and he didn’t want her to lose her income I thought, “Harris said.

More than 70 years later, Harris and Odom say it is very important to recognize the contributions of these women.

“Our job at NASA is to inspire. People enter these very difficult areas, difficult areas from a training perspective, difficult areas from a professional perspective, and services. It’s about inspiring you to reach a poor, underrated group. Unfortunately, women are still part of it. Definitely African-American, African-American women. “

“If people don’t know what women have done in front of them, young boys may not consider women authoritative, and young girls may not think they can aspire to these positions.” Harris said.

Odom says we wouldn’t be in place today without these hidden figures.

“If you want to do the difficult things of space exploration and scientific discovery at that level, you need to have a variety of ideas. It requires everyone and a mixture of ideas from multiple perspectives. That’s what Odom said.

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