Katherine Johnson photographed at her desk at Langley Research Center in 1966. NASA.

1918 – 2020

“I loved going to work every single day”.
Based in what became the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) research centre at Langley, USA, Katherine Johnson and others were originally in a segregated all-Black group of female mathematicians. The “West Computers” as they were known, all excelled.

Together these women made a significant contribution to the maths NASA needed to launch America’s first human spaceflight. The film Hidden Figures celebrates their amazing story. What is highlighted is that, in addition to being amazing mathematicians, they also needed great strength of character to overcome prejudice and discrimination.

What would you love to work at every single day?

Explore the amazing story of Chinese polymath Wang Zhenyi. In her short life she wrote maths books for the uneducated peasants, made scientific discoveries in astronomy and wrote poetry. She was also a skilled equestrian, martial arts expert and much more.

Or discover Florence Nightingale’s story and her work as a mathematician. Did you know she invented the pie chart and was a great statistician?

Our free resource celebrates amazing female mathematicians. Primary PDF | Secondary PDF

As Katherine Johnson said, “Girls are capable of doing everything men are capable of doing”.

Photo: NASA