BLACK HERSTORY MONTH: KATHERINE JOHNSON - Boulo Solutions
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BLACK HERSTORY MONTH: KATHERINE JOHNSON

photo Katherine Johnson, Boulo Black Herstory Month Feature

BLACK HERSTORY MONTH: KATHERINE JOHNSON

Boulo Solutions would not be here if it wasn’t for women. Women are incredibly powerful, and there is no denying the trailblazers they are. In honor of Black History Month, Boulo will be highlighting the story of powerful Black women every week, in other words, we are celebrating Black HERstory month.

For such a long time, women were excluded from professional rooms, and if they were included it was for the back-end work, and most times never recognized. For many years, people of color were not welcomed in professions, and those who were – and even those who made great impact and contributions to the field – were often overlooked or just ignored and forgotten. In reality, though, there have been hundreds of people of color – including Black women (obviously) – who have left a powerful mark on history. Today, we have the honor of highlighting one of many: the intelligent Katherine Johnson.

Katherine Johnson with President Obama
Katherine Johnson with President Barack Obama

Have you heard of Katherine Johnson?

I hope so because her story is amazing! Katherine Johnson was one of the first African American women to join NASA and become a prominent scientist. She is known as the country’s prominent mathematician, physicist, and aeronautics expert who was involved in Project Mercury and the Apollo 11 mission. Her story began in West Virginia, even at a young age, Katherine was intelligent! She started high school when she was just 10 years old and was 15 when she began college, and 18 when she graduated! She was one of the first African American women in her graduate school at West Virginia University and decided to become a research mathematician.

Women in those days were lesser in numbers in science engineering and technology in the United States but Johnson went on to join NASA, where she earned the name of the “human computer.” In the 1950s, there were no computers like we have today. People had to solve hard math problems by themselves. They were often used to add machines and rulers. These people were called “computers.” The NACA (NASA) hired women to work like computers. But Katherine was different from the other human computers. She asked a lot of questions. Before Katherine, only men attended these work meetings. She changed that! She learned so much that she left her job as a computer and became promoted to a team member who worked on different space projects for NASA.

What should you take out of Katherine Johnson’s story?

After college, Katherine became a teacher. She taught schools until she got married and had her children. When her husband became very sick, she started teaching again to support her family. Whether you are at a stage where you now must take a pause in your career for your family or go back to work after taking that pause, your potential success is unmeasurable.

The pause in your career does not define you if anything it enhanced your professional skills! Because let’s be honest, that pause was not a pause. Your time out of the workforce was most likely equivalent to years as an operational and/or project manager to your household. And with Boulo Solutions, we can help you translate those skills into your professional resume. With Boulo Solutions, you can have the professional achievement you desire! Katherine took that pause in her career and came back and sent someone to the moon. You too can go to the moon!

Did you know that Katherine applied to NASA twice? Right now, you may be at a point where you’re applying for countless jobs and feeling like you’re going through a cycle that never ends. We get it. Especially, those feelings of “am I enough? am I worthy?” we are here to tell you that you are more than enough! You are more than capable. Don’t let anyone’s assumptions define you, we can help you find a career that values you and your professional history.

Katherine Johnson with the cast of Hidden Figures: Janelle Monae, Taraji P. Henson, and Octavia Spencer

Encouragement from Katherine Johnson:

Return to Work Moms

  • “I don’t have a feeling of inferiority. Never had. I’m as good as anybody, but no better.”
  • “Everything was so new – the whole idea of going into space was new and daring. There were no textbooks, so we had to write them.”
  • “If you want to know you ask a question. There’s no such thing as a dumb question, it’s dumb if you don’t ask it.”
  • “The women did what they were told to do. They didn’t ask questions or take the task any further. I asked questions; I wanted to know why. They got used to me asking questions and being the only woman there.”

Those Who are Struggling with Their Worth From their Job-Search:

  • “If you’re prepared and the opportunity comes up, it’s your good fortune to have been in the right place at the right time and to have been prepared for the job.”
  • “Girls are capable of doing everything men are capable of doing. Sometimes they have more imagination than men.”
  • “We needed to be assertive as women in those days – assertive and aggressive – and the degree to which we had to be that way depended on where you were.”
  • “Let me do it. You tell me when you want it and where you want it to land, and I’ll do it backward and tell you when to take off.”
  • “I finished the report, and my name went on it, and that was the first time a woman in our division had her name on something.”

Bibliography:
Wild, Flint. “Who Was Katherine Johnson?” NASA, NASA, 30 Dec. 2016, https://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/k-4/stories/nasa-knows/who-was-katherine-johnson-k4
Loff, Sarah. “Katherine Johnson Biography.” NASA, NASA, 22 Nov. 2016, https://www.nasa.gov/content/katherine-johnson-biography
Deiss, Heather S, and Denisse MIller. “Who Is Katherine Johnson? .” CommonLit, 2017, https://www.commonlit.org/texts/who-is-katherine-johnson