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

My Mother the Teacher

My Mother the Teacher

More From Katherine G.

In this video

NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson talks about how her mother was a natural-born teacher and how she herself was a natural-born student.

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

Cathy Guisewite
Cathy Guisewite
Creator of "Cathy" Comic

Cathy Guisewite is the creator and cartoonist behind the long-running nationally syndicated comic strip "Cathy," one of the first mainstream comics created by a woman. Ap...

Catharine MacKinnon
Catharine MacKinnon
Pioneering Legal Scholar

Catharine MacKinnon is a legal scholar who pioneered the legal claim for sexual harassment. As an undergraduate at Smith College, MacKinnon was first introduced to the constitution...

Jane Chen
Jane Chen
Non-Profit Healthcare Advocate

Jane Chen is the Co-Founder and CEO of Embrace, a social enterprise aiming to help millions of vulnerable babies born in developing countries through the creation of low-cost infan...

Anne Wojcicki
Anne Wojcicki
Co-Founder and CEO, 23andMe

With a hope to empower consumers with access to their own genetic information and change the face of health care, Anne Wojcicki co-founded the personal genetic testing company, 23a...