Dorothy Vaughan



Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson, and Janelle Monae, the stars of “Hidden Figures,” pose with their awards. The actresses were backstage the 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017. Spencer (left) played Dorothy Vaughan in the award- winning movie.

Adhiti Chundur, Print Editor-in-Chief

  In 1943 during WWII, Dorothy Vaughan started a job at the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory. When President Roosevelt signed an executive order prohibiting racial, religious, and ethnic discrimination, she became part of the first group of African-American mathematicians to be hired. However, NACA (which later would be known as NASA) was still segregated at the time, so Vaughan was assigned to work at the West Area Computing unit, where she and other African-American female mathematicians made computations for aeronautical experiments. In 1949, Vaughan was promoted manager of West Area Computers, making he the first African- American supervisor at NACA. In 1958, she joined the Analysis and Computation Division, during the same time NASA was desegregating, and became an expert at FORTRAN programming. She retired from NASA in 1971. Vaughan is played by actress Octavia Spencer in the movie “Hidden Figures.”