The first Black woman scientist to be employed at NASA, engineer Mary Jackson became an inspiration for many.

Mary Jackson

February 10, 2021

Born April 9th, 1921 in the city of Hampton, VA, American mathematician and engineer Mary Jackson became the first Black woman to work at NASA.

After graduating from college with a degree in both mathematics and physical science, Hampton started work as a math teacher in Maryland, and later became part of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. 

Segregated into the West Wing of the facility with other Black women, Jackson along with other employees were forced to use separate dining areas and bathrooms. 

Despite this, her computing unit provided crucial data that would later be used in early space exploration for the United States.  

After being denied management positions, she took on the role as manager of women’s programs at NASA until retiring in 1985. 

It wasn’t until after her death in 2005 that her impact to the program became better known. Along with other workers, Jackson was an inspiration for books and movies, such as Margot Lee Shetterly’s book Hidden Figures, which was released as a movie the same year.

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