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“Hidden Figures” Women Honored with Congressional Gold Medals

The medals recognize the women’s contributions while working for NASA during the Space Race in the late ‘60s.

The four Black women who worked for NASA and inspired the true story behind the film “Hidden Figures” will be given Congressional Gold Medals. 

On Friday, President Trump signed into law the Hidden Figures Congressional Gold Medal Act, which awards medals to Katherine Johnson and Dr. Christine Darden, and Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson posthumously. The medals recognize the women’s contributions while working for NASA during the Space Race in the 1960s. 

The women played a major role in history by working behind the scenes to put Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom, John Glenn, and others in space. The story of their work (and the racial discrimination they faced) was developed into the 2016 movie “Hidden Figures,” starring Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monáe and Octavia Spencer. 

Darden and Jackson worked as engineers, Johnson as a mathematician, and Vaughan as a computer programmer, all at NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia. They were part of a team whose calculations put the first men in space. 

A fifth gold medal was awarded for the other women who worked as human computers, engineers, and mathematicians for NASA between the 1930s and 1970s. 

In June, the street in front of NASA’s Washington headquarters was renamed Hidden Figures Way in honor of the women who contributed to the country’s space program.