Mary Winston Jackson (1921–2005) successfully overcame the barriers of segregation and gender bias to become a professional aerospace engineer and leader in ensuring equal opportunities for future generations. Credit: NASA
(News from NASA on June 24, 2020)
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced Wednesday the agency’s headquarters building in Washington, D.C., will be named after Mary W. Jackson, the first African American female engineer at NASA.
Mary W. Jackson NASA Headquarters building in Washington, D.C. Credits: NASA
Jackson started her NASA career in the segregated West Area Computing Unit of the agency’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Jackson, a mathematician and aerospace engineer, went on to lead programs influencing the hiring and promotion of women in NASA’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers. In 2019, she was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.
The work of the West Area Computing Unit caught widespread national attention in the 2016 Margot Lee Shetterly book Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race. The book was made into a popular movie that same year and Jackson’s character was played by award-winning actress Janelle Monáe.
“Mary W. Jackson was part of a ...