What Hidden Figures Taught Us About Inclusion and Diversity - MTV Voices
Opinion

What Hidden Figures Taught Us About Inclusion and Diversity

“I love going to the cinema. The warm popcorn, the gut busting nachos and a darkened room where I can completely indulge in a film. However, as a young black person, I’ve always felt like there’s been too many movies that focus on slavery. Enter Hidden Figures.

Finally, a film that shows the successes of black people!

And it’s kicking ass. It tells the story of NASA’s black women mathematicians. Exceptionally talented, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson helped the Langley Research Centre put a man into space. They also aided in making technological advances for future space missions – leaving behind a powerful legacy.

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And they did all this incredible stuff against the backdrop of strong racism and discrimination.

There were still separate bathrooms for people of colour to use. And a total lack of equal opportunity for these African- American women, despite their obvious excellence and competency.

And while the ridiculous bathroom situation is thankfully no longer an issue – opportunity-wise, things aren’t that different today.

Women of colour in America (WOC), still experience overt racism and discrimination in the workplace. A 2015 study found that WOC face biases unique to their racial or ethnic background as well as their gender. This is especially evident in science, technology and engineering jobs where many have felt the pressure to conform to traditionally feminine roles.

What’s more, WOC make up just 16.5 percent who work for America’s largest and most financially powerful companies despite making up a third of all working women.

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They become even rarer the further up the ladder you go; representing less than 10 percent of managers, fewer than 4 per cent of executives, and just 0.4 percent of CEOs. In comparison, white women make up more than a quarter of managers, over 20 percent of executives, and 4.4 percent of CEOs.

Why? Well, it’s thought that WOC are less capable of leadership than their white colleagues, like those in Hidden Figures.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this can’t be true – look how many of the world’s biggest challenges have been created by old white men. Hidden Figures is just one example of how – through fresh information and insight – a diverse workforce can do incredible things. The more diversity we have, the more empowered we are to think and act differently.

So, I am all for embracing new narratives, platforms and especially WOC.”

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