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How to raise future black women mathematicians

Studying the successes of black women mathematicians opens a window into how we can produce more black STEM grads. It also exposes the bigotry that prevents us from doing so. The new movie Hidden Figures, based on the book of the same title by Margot Lee Shetterly, tells the story of Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe). These black women represented dozens if not hundreds of black women “computers” whose largely unrecognized intellectual contributions after World War II gave rise to the U.S. space program.

The lesson? The U.S. will continue to cut off its nose to spite its face by not treating the advancement of black girls’ achievement like the space race.

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