Sunday, March 8, 2015

International Women's Day 2015

Celebrate the women and girls in your life, your world, their value and their equality.

Learn from Women's History month this month what women HAVE accomplished to better understand and encourage what women and girls can NEXT accomplish.

Katherine Johnson is 96; she is still with us. Because she is both a woman, and a black woman who lived through and made advances during the civil rights era, it is doubly apt that she be given recognition on the day that is also the 50th Anniversary of the March on Selma. For all of her remarkable abilities and contributions, Katherine Johnson would have had to sit at the back of the bus, use colored only restrooms, could be denied service in restaurants before civil rights legislation and civil rights SCOTUS victories.

From a 2008 NASA biography:
Not that she ever thought she wasn't equal.

"I didn't have time for that," said Johnson in her Hampton home. "My dad taught us 'you are as good as anybody in this town, but you're no better.' I don't have a feeling of inferiority. Never had. I'm as good as anybody, but no better."

But probably a lot smarter. She was a "computer" at Langley Research Center "when the computer wore a skirt," said Johnson. More important, she was living out her life's goal, though, when it became her goal, she wasn't sure what it involved.

Johnson was born in White Sulfur Springs, W.Va., where school for African-Americans stopped at eighth grade. Her father, Joshua, was a farmer who drove his family 120 miles to Institute, W. Va., where education continued through high school and then at West Virginia State College. He would get wife Joylette a job as a domestic and leave the family there to be educated while he went back to White Sulfur Springs to make a living.

Katherine skipped though grades to graduate from high school at 14, from college at 18, and her skills at mathematics drew the attention of a young professor, W.W. Schiefflin Claytor.

Katherine Johnson.

Katherine Johnson's work at NASA's Langley Research Center spanned 1953 to 1986 and included calculating the trajectory of the early space launches.

Photo Credit: NASA/Sean Smith.
Click on the images for a larger view

"He said, 'You'd make a good research mathematician and I'm going to see that you're prepared,' " she recalled.

"I said, 'Where will I get a job?'

"And he said, 'That will be your problem.'
From FB's Daily Random Science Fact:

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