As published on LinkedIn Influencers on March 22nd, 2017
I, like many people, watched the Oscars last month, but unlike most people, for me, the Best Picture category was not a two horse race. In my mind, it was already decided long before the ceremony began. With all due respect to La La Land and Moonlight, as far as I’m concerned the best film of last year was Hidden Figures. It may even be one of my favourite films ever, although I’m reserving judgement on that until I see Wonder Woman in June. But for now, Hidden Figures is my pick, and if you haven’t seen it yet, I can’t recommend it enough. This film manages to make math and science as exciting and action packed as any recent superhero movie, and it tells a story that was long since overdue for recognition. For those of you who have yet to discover this incredible film, Hidden Figures tells the story of Dorothy Vaughan, Katherine Johnson, and Mary Jackson, three African-American female scientists working for NASA at the height of the space race in the early 1960s.
The story of the race to put a human into space is well known, as are the names of John Glenn, Alan Shepard, Neil Armstrong, and Buzz Aldrin, but as is so often the case, the people behind the scenes rarely receive the recognition they deserve. In particular, women’s contributions are often overlooked entirely, and this practice is egregiously worse for women of color. With all of this in mind, is it unfortunately not surprising that it took so long for the stories of Vaughan, Johnson, and Jackson to be told, but these stories are out there now and audiences are responding. Hidden Figures currently has a 92% critic’s approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and it was the highest grossing Best Picture nominee at this year’s Oscars, even surpassing big budget franchise entries such as X-Men Apocalypse, Jason Bourne, and Star Trek Beyond. Can we finally, please, put an end to the question about whether or not films about women can attract audiences?
It would seem, however, that the success of Hidden Figures has extended beyond the scope of the film in an amazing way. After the most recent International Women’s Day, I did a quick scan of the headlines, and I noticed an interesting trend. There was an awful lot of “Women You Don’t Know About But Should” articles, most likely inspired by the popularity of Hidden Figures, and I couldn’t be happier that so many women’s stories are finally coming to the forefront. I hope these stories continue to be told and heard, and that these women will be held up as role models for generations to come. In honour of this past International Women’s Day, here’s a selection of articles about the women you should know. I hope you are all as inspired by these stories as I am.