Inequality of Women in “Hidden Figures”

The theme of the movie Hidden Figures is the issues of inequality of women, African Americans, and specifically African American women in education, the workplace, and daily life as a whole. This movie can be used in providing specific examples that can be used for leadership development. This film connects to the course Civic Engagement, Activism, and Movements for Leadership & Social Change by demonstrating the social change model, resilience, and diverse perspectives on leadership focusing on gender and race. I thought this was a phenomenal movie that has a great theme, many positive attributes that reflect class, and is overall motivational. This movie teaches many lessons about many different important topics including gender and race discrimination. In the film, it shows how unfairly people of color, especially women, are treated. For example, women of color must use separate bathrooms located in a different building all the way across NASA’s campus which interferes with their work.

In addition, a character Mary Jackson wants to become a NASA engineer and cannot do that without taking classes at an all-white school, so she has to demonstrate resilience and changes the game by taking it to court to gain permission to take those classes; she gains permission and successfully becomes an engineer at NASA as we are told in the credits of the movie. These are two notable examples from the film that demonstrate discrimination faced by much of the country during this time period.

Leadership and social change for equality critical aspects of this film. This film could be utilized in leadership development due to its demonstration of many leadership skills including adaptability, determination, and resilience. One example of adaptability in the movie is when the IBM mainframe is brought in and the character Dorothy Vaughan, who acts as an unofficial supervisor for the African American female computers, learns about this machine and begins learning how to program and teach the others. Determination and resilience are demonstrated throughout the entire film from the strain the job puts of the women’s family and romantic relationships to putting up with the day to day discrimination.

This film connects to the course Civic Engagement, Activism, and Movements for Leadership & Social Change by providing a phenomenal example of the social change model. The main character wants to work for NASA and make a difference which is the individual lense of the social change model. The group lense of the social change model is portrayed in the film by the African American female computers who work for NASA because they all share similar identities and values while pursuing their passion.

I much enjoyed watching this movie and regret not seeing it in movie theaters. I love how this film tackles such an important issue and a piece of history while giving it an interesting plot and storyline. It is very inspirational that these individuals, who have all odds working against them, managed to be successful and pave the way due to their resilience leadership and challenging the system. In class, we discussed the white savior phenomena and even watched a short clip about everything wrong with the movie, but overall the movie did a fantastic job and demonstrating essential issues. The lessons this film illustrated aided in my understanding of the course material by giving a fascinating and complex real-world example with a plot.

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