Bioethics Blogs

Part I: Bioethics meets Hidden Figures at Mind the Gap “When you strike woman you strike rock”

Elizabeth Gabler (President, Fox 2000)
Mind the Gap HIDDEN FIGURES Panel
Hidden Figures is a fiction film adapted from Margo Lee Shetterly’s nonfiction book by the same  name. It is about a group of African American women who are mathematicians. As if that were not exceptional enough, they work for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at Langley, Virginia. But— wait for it— in the early 1960s. A true story— 

This movie is an homage to women taking their rightful place in the history of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). However, now understanding ‘art’ unleashes scientific capacity — this film about Sci-tech is also about STEAM. It is no accident most of the women depicted in the book and film were educated at Historically Black Colleges and Universities known then, and now, for pushing students to excellence in all fields. 


Hidden Figures focuses on a small pertinent aspect of the source book— how a cadre of Black women helped launch the Mercury 7 astronauts. Set in 1961, the back drop is a pivotal period in the United States civil rights struggle, the imbalances of the Cold War, and the peri-WWII legacy pushing women into the previously male dominated work force. The collaboration between the characters in the film mirrors that of the production team which developed the project. 

The California Film Institute, parent of the Mill Valley Film Festival (MVFF), has an ongoing initiative to improve the status of women behind the camera in the film industry. The initiative is called Mind the Gap.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.