Newsletter

Stay up to date with the latest from MAKERS delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for new stories from trailblazing women, a big dose of inspiration, and exclusive MAKERS content.

Newsletter Confirmation

Thank you for joining! Please check your inbox for our special welcome letter
with exclusive updates from MAKERS.

MAKERS Moment

Constellations

Constellations

More From Katherine G.

In this video

NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson talks about how the stars and constellations we're familiar with on Earth look much different when you're in orbit.

Katherine G.'s Biography

Love for Math:Because there's an exact answer.
Early Affinity for Numbers:"They tell me I counted everything."
Growing Up an African American Girl:"You could be a nurse or a teacher."
The Power of Teachers:"The fact that teachers can obstruct or they can assist. And mine always assisted me in moving up."

Katherine G. Johnson is a pioneer in American space history. A NASA mathematician, Johnson's computations have influenced every major space program from Mercury through the Shuttle. She even calculated the flight path for the first American mission space.
 
Born in 1918 in West Virginia, Johnson was a talented student who entered college at only 15 years old. At West Virginia State University, W.W. Schiefflin Clayor, the third African American to earn a PhD. in mathematics, recognized Johnson's abilities and motivated her to take advanced math. Johnson would go on to earn a graduate degree in mathematics.
 
In 1953, Johnson was contracted as a research mathematician at the Langley Research Center with the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the agency that preceded NASA. She worked in a pool of women performing math calculations until she was temporarily assigned to help the all-male flight research team, and wound up staying there. Johnson’s specialty was calculating the trajectories for space shots which determined the timing for launches, including the Mercury mission and Apollo 11, the mission to the moon.
 

Related Videos

Miranda July
Miranda July
Artist & Filmmaker

When Miranda July (née Miranda Jennifer Grossinger) dropped out of college to move to Portland in the 90s, it was clear she was already adept at conveying gravitas. Through ...

Renée Loux
Renée Loux
Green Expert & Chef

Renée Loux is a champion for the environmental and sustainable food movements. She is an author, television personality, chef and monthly columnist for Women’s Health ...

Mae O'Malley
Mae O'Malley
Attorney & Entrepreneur

When San Francisco attorney, Mae O’Malley got pregnant, she realized she needed an innovative alternative that would give her the opportunity to balance work with the needs o...

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Crusader For Women

Wellesley College seniors had never before chosen a commencement speaker from their own ranks when Hillary Rodham stepped to the podium on the last day of May in 1969. Education, s...