Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson

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Girls are capable of doing everything men are capable of doing. Sometimes they have more imagination than men.

Take all the courses in your curriculum. Do the research. Ask questions. Find someone doing what you are interested in! Be curious!


Katherine Johnson was born in 1918 in West Virginia. Katherine loved to learn. She loved learning math the most. Katherine went through school quickly. She started high school when she was just 10 years old! When she was 15, Katherine began college. She took classes to become a mathematician. She graduated from college when she was 18.

When Katherine was 34, she heard that NACA (later called NASA) was hiring African-American women. So she applied, didn’t get hired the first time and applied again and got hired. Early in her career, she was called a “computer.” Then later grew and started sitting in meetings. Before Katherine, only men attended these meetings.

Johnson studied how to use geometry for space travel. She figured out the paths for the spacecraft to orbit Earth and to land on the moon. NASA used Katherine's math, and it worked! She helped NASA put an astronaut into orbit around Earth. And then she helped put a man on the moon.

We needed to be assertive as women in those days - assertive and aggressive - and the degree to which we had to be that way depended on where you were. I had to be.

Fun Fact: Katherine Johnson celebrated her 100th birthday on Aug. 26, 2018