By Altahra Ahmed, Quality Assurance & Training Coordinator
Women’s History month has been celebrated since 1987 in the United States. This national recognition of women’s contributions started by a week-long celebration of women in March by the Sonoma School District in California in 1978. That lone event spread across the nation and almost a decade later Congress passed a resolution to establish an annual national celebration. This is significant, not only because women have great contributions that have been overlooked for a long time, but also because it shows how societal change is possible and can happen even if it is very slow. As we celebrate the contributions of women, we should also remember other minority groups and think of ways we can be proactive to make positive changes in our society.
As societies evolved throughout history, women’s roles have changed drastically over the years. A lot of rights were gained and many more are still in progress, like equal pay. During the month of March, we look back to the contributions and sacrifices of pioneering women, and try to learn from their perseverance and determination to fuel future progress, because new challenges will always come up.
We are currently living in one of the most challenging events in decades because of the COVID-19 pandemic that stopped life as we know it in 2020. The challenges were and are still extreme for everyone, and more so for working women and mothers who had to work from home and still be full-time caretakers for their families.
One of the women I would like to shed some light on is Katherine Johnson. Mrs. Johnson was an African American Mathematician who worked at NASA from 1953 to 1986. She was passionate about math, and despite the odds she started college at the age of 15. She graduated three years later with a degree in Math and French. Yet, despite her training as a research mathematician, being a woman of color limited her career choices to teaching. After more than a decade, at the age of 34, she started working at NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics) as a member of the pioneering group of African-American women who were hired as computers, working on math computation by hand. Mrs. Johnson faced double segregation, being segregated from the white female computers and also from the rest of the male engineers. Her love for math and great confidence led her to stand out and she asked to participate in meetings that women were excluded from. In 1962, she went on to calculate the trajectory to send the first American astronaut to orbit Earth. Her math was integral to the success of the Apollo 11 mission to land on the moon and return back to Earth safely. Mrs. Johnson’s life and work highlight her great strength and how she was able to thrive and succeed despite her circumstances and not because of them.
So, this March, celebrate the great women in your life and also in your society. Read about the many contributions women have made in the U.S. and all around the world. More importantly, if you are a woman, remember to take the time to slow down and take a moment to celebrate you!
Always remember that CommUnity is a safe place where you can find support, and a listening ear!