Katherine Johnson in Hidden Figures Character Analysis

This is FREE sample
This text is free, available online and used for guidance and inspiration. Need a 100% unique paper? Order a custom essay.
  • Any subject
  • Within the deadline
  • Without paying in advance
Get custom essay

The saying, “Like what you do, and then you will do your best” holds true for one particular woman who worked for NASA during all of the Apollo trials and the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union. Katherine Johnson is a resilient and brave African American that worked nonstop to prove herself in the field of mathematics. She loved her job despite the hardships she had to endure and the unfair treatment that she received. However, these hardships did not hold her back and she became known as one of the greatest mathematicians of her time. Katherine Johnson changed the mathematics field by making an important contribution in the ability for astronauts to precisely determine their position in space.

In 1962, Johnson finalized the calculations for her greatest achievement in her career. Apollo 13 was a major and exciting event that took time and effort from every man and women in the Flight Research Division. Not only did Apollo 13 mean a great deal to NASA, this was also a “Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union” (Williams). NASA was attempting to land the third man on the moon however, the mission had to be aborted only two days in due to an oxygen tank mishap. Johnson aided the astronauts in safely returning to earth earlier than they had planned.

Katherine Johnson’s calculations were the main contributor in returning those men back to their families. Her work helped establish a “one-star observation system that would allow astronauts to determine their location in space with accuracy” (Williams). Johnson worked extremely hard for her coworkers to trust her enough to allow her to give some guidance for these Apollo missions. Johnson was so academically advanced that when everyone was concerned about getting the astronauts into space, she was concerned about getting them back (Williams).

Since she was one of the only ones concerned about the return of the astronauts, when the Apollo 13 mission was abruptly cut short, her coworkers had to trust her because she was the only one with any calculations on how to get them back. At this point in her career she had gained the respect from her white male coworkers. Her coworkers respected her so much that they allowed her to be the first women to put her name on a research paper that she coauthored. Johnson had reached a pivotal moment in history. “Blacks and whites were exploring new ground together” (Shetterly, “Hidden Figures”).

Johnson’s life growing up was not exactly an easy one. Her choices of school were limited because she was an African American. At age fourteen she had already graduated high school and had started college. She had already taken all the advanced math classes she could so when she got to college her math professor “created advanced math classes just for her” (Shetterly, “Hidden Figures”). This math professor also told her that finding a job as an African American women was going to be nearly impossible so when she graduated college, she taught math at an African American public school.

She waited patiently until she got the opportunity to use her brilliant mind at her dream job. Johnson heard that the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) was hiring mathematicians for their Navigation Department. She moved her family to Hampton Virginia to take on the job and her “extensive knowledge of analytic geometry as well as her inquisitive nature led to a temporary assignment on an all-male flight research team” (Williams). This temporary job eventually became permanent and led to her becoming one of the greatest and trusted minds in NASA.

As a result of Johnson’s outstanding performance on the Apollo 13 mission and all of her achievements after this mission, she has been recognized in many ways. Johnson and two of her African American coworkers have been featured in a movie that shows the world how hard they worked for a job they believed in. Their achievements allowed these women to be highlighted in the movie “Hidden Figures” which documented their work life before NASA disbanded segregation in 1958 (Williams). Apart from this movie, Johnson was again recognized by the President of the United States.

In 2015 President Obama awarded her the “Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor” (Shetterly, “Katherine Johnson”). All of her awards and achievements have inspired numerous African Americans to work for what they believe in. She paved the path for new jobs to arise and new opportunities for women in the work field.

Katherine Johnson changed the mathematics field by making an important contribution in the ability for astronauts to precisely determine their position in space.

Without her contributions to NASA and the mathematical world, young girls and experts alike would lack the knowledge and courage that she portrayed for them. Katherine Johnson is one individual that should not be overlooked. She overcame problems that seemed impossible to others, she explored new territory that no one was willing to go, and most importantly she taught countless people that if you like what you do then you will do your best.

Works Cited

  1. Shetterly, Margot Lee. Hidden Figures. 1st ed. Harper Collins Publishers. 2016.
  2. “Katherine Johnson Biography.” NASA, 16 Aug. 2018, https://www.nasa.gov/content/Katherine-johnson-biography. 11 Nov. 2019.
  3. Williams, Talithia. Power in Numbers the Rebel Women of Mathematics. Race Point Publishing, 2018.

Cite this paper

Katherine Johnson in Hidden Figures Character Analysis. (2020, Sep 11). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/katherine-johnson-in-hidden-figures/

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Peter is on the line!

Don't settle for a cookie-cutter essay. Receive a tailored piece that meets your specific needs and requirements.

Check it out