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Society of Women Engineers

A Movie about Women in STEM Tops the Box Office

FY17 President of the Society of Women Engineers Jessica Rannow celebrated that a movie about women in STEM is number one.

Published On: January 2017

Hidden Figures is the top movie at the box office this week. On Facebook, FY17 President of the Society of Women Engineers Jessica Rannow celebrated that a movie about women in STEM is number one.

Hidden Figures cost about $25 million to produce and grossed more than $22.8 during its first weekend in wide release. According to The Hollywood Reporter, 43 percent of ticket buyers were Caucasian and 37 percent African-American. It also reported females were 64 percent of the audience and 56 percent were 35 or older. The New York Times reported the movie did especially well in San Francisco, Washington, Chicago, and Cleveland.

Hidden Figures has also received critical acclaim including two Golden Globe nominations. One nomination was for best original score by Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams, and Benjamin Wallfisch; the other for Octavia Spencer’s performance as a supporting actress in a motion picture. The film received a 93 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which combines reviews from critics and movie-goers.

The movie is based on the true story of a team of African-American women who provided important mathematical data needed to launch NASA’s first successful space missions in the 1960s. Taraji Henson is the star of the film and plays Katherine Johnson, a physicist and mathematician; Spencer plays Dorothy Vaughan, a mathematician and aerospace engineer; and Janelle Monáe plays Mary Jackson, also a mathematician and aerospace engineer. The three women worked on calculating flight trajectories, engineering, and computer programming for Project Mercury and the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Janelle Okwodu of Vogue writes, “The heroes that director Theodore Melfi showcases in Hidden Figures are women who changed the world by working hard and living their lives with dignity in the face of injustice… The racism and sexism they face throughout the film connects with the issues many still confront daily, and the nature of their story—years of calculations and findings they were never given credit for—gives the film urgency.”

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