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

Beverly Guy-Sheftall
Beverly Guy-Sheftall
Pioneer of Black Women's Studies

As one of the leading African-American feminist scholars of our time, Beverly Guy-Sheftall was instrumental in bringing the women’s studies movement to women of color, and th...

Brandon Holley
Brandon Holley
Former Editor-in-Chief, Lucky

Brandon Holley is the former Editor-in-Chief for Lucky, the award-winning magazine about shopping and style. She began her magazine career as a writer for Paper, which eventually l...

Jane Fonda
Jane Fonda
Actress, Author & Fitness Icon

Actor, producer, and activist Jane Fonda didn’t always know what she wanted to be. But when she took a class with Lee Strasberg at his famed Actors Studio (sitting next to Ma...

Loretta Ross
Loretta Ross
Feminist Organizer

Human and women's rights activist Loretta Ross co-founded and served as National Coordinator of the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, a network that or...