SWE Honors Hidden Figures Congressional Gold Medal Awardees

Congressional Gold Medals are rarely awarded to women, and especially women of color. This award both acknowledges the significant contributions of so many NASA #HiddenFigures while also recognizing there is still much ground to break for true gender parity in STEM.
Framed images of Katherine Johnson, Christine Darden, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson

On Monday, December 9, 2019, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden were recognized with Congressional Gold Medals for their contributions to NASA during the Space Race. Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson were recognized for the same posthumously. While each woman received their own Congressional Gold Medal recognition, a fifth Gold Medal was designated to honor all of the women who worked at NASA during the Space Race.

SWE was present at the reception honoring these women, which was sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and held on the senate side of the United States Capitol. SWE is celebrating nearly 70 years of advocacy for women like Johnson, Darden, Vaughan, and Jackson – though many of the accomplishments of SWE members remain hidden or classified.

SWE supported the bipartisan legislation that was passed into law to recognize these tremendous women and their colleagues. The legislation was introduced by a bipartisan group of elected leaders, including Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Congressman Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Senators Chris Coons (D-DL), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Kamala Harris (D-CA). All but Senator Harris were present at the reception on Monday.

Senator Chris Coons (D-DL) and Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) award Dr. Christine Darden.
Senator Chris Coons (D-DL) and Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) award Dr. Christine Darden.

Other guests of honor at the event included the author of Hidden Figures, Margot Lee Shetterly; the producer of the film Hidden Figures, Donna Gigliotti; the highest-ranking woman at NASA, Deputy Associate Administrator, Melanie Saunders; and Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA).


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