Site Loader
Get a Quote

During the 1900s, it seems uncommon to find a person of color in a management position or leading a company. Dorothy Vaughan to able to do something even more uncommon which is becoming NASA’s first African-American woman to become a manager. Dorothy Vaughan was born on September 20, 1910 in Kansas City, Missouri. When she was 7, her parents moved to Morgantown, West Virginia where she graduated from Beechurst High School and later attended Wilberforce University to received a Bachelor of Science degree. Many of her professors urged Dorothy to study at Howard University, but she soon started working as a teacher to assist her family during the Great Depression.
In 1943, Vaughan left her teaching position in Virginia to work at the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory. She was responsible for calculating mathematical computations as well as computing the flights of launch vehicles. Dorothy dealt with segregation and racism as newly-hired mathematicians of “color” had to work separately from other workers. Dorothy Vaughan was assigned to the segregated “West Area Computing” unit, which was an all-black group of female mathematicians. These women were required to use separate dining and bathroom facilities even after President Roosevelt signed the Executive Order 8802 to law. Racism isn’t the only challenge Vaughan faced during her career as a mathematical, being a woman was also a challenge in an era where NASA is led by men. Despite all this Dorothy was the first Black supervisor at NACA and one of few female supervisors.
In only a few years, she went from working with a segregated group of African American women, to leading a group of African American female mathematicians. What Dorothy thought would be a two year war job at Langley, became a 28 year-career. During her career she was married with six children and one of them later also worked at NASA-Langley. Vaughan retired from NASA in 1971, at the age of 61 and died on November 10, 2008.
Learning about Dorothy Vaughan’s accomplishments and life was really interesting considering that I did not know many women that have had an impact on NASA’s history. In my opinion, Dorothy Vaughan can be considered a hero for her ability to work as hard as she did regardless of the way people of color were being treated during her time. Her courage paved the way for future generations of mathematicians.

Post Author: admin