The Tablet Jr. > March 2022

By Sienna Kohm, Grade 7

Sienna KohmValiant by definition means showing or possessing courage or determination. There have been a wide variety of valiant women throughout history. Some ran countries or wrote novels, but others worked to become significant parts of the scientific community. Mary Jackson was one of these women. Mary Jackson was a valiant woman because she was one of the first African American female engineers at NASA, helping other women get hired by NASA.

In 1958, Mary Jackson became the first female engineer at NASA. She worked in the computing section of Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory at NASA. Jackson graduated top of her class in high school then went on to Hampton Institute. She earned her Bachelor of Science Degrees in Physics and Mathematics and graduated in 1942. Before Jackson could even work for NASA at the Langley Memorial, she had to get a permit to take the course required because of her race. After she took the course and was able to work there, it wasn’t easy because she had to work twice as hard as the males in her field. Often, she would stay hours after her coworkers left to finish her work.

Mary Jackson was a valiant woman because she helped influence the number of women ultimately hired by NASA. After almost three decades of working as an engineer for NASA, Jackson had reached the most senior title she could within her field. During Jackson’s work as an engineer at NASA, she realized how difficult it was for women to be promoted and hired by NASA. So, after 34 years of working at NASA as an engineer, Jackson made a final career change to be the manager of Langley’s Federal Women’s Program. She helped NASA hire the next generation of women engineers, mathematicians, and scientists. Jackson wanted women to get involved with science and mathematics, and in this position, she achieved this.

Mary Jackson is one of the many valiant women in history. She did many great things for the world of physics and astronomy. Jackson’s work for NASA hasn’t gone unnoticed, and in 2016 the book Hidden Figures was written by Lee Shetterly. The book tells the story of Jackson and other women helping NASA achieve space exploration. Mary Jackson used her knowledge of equations, physics, and mathematics to provide information that is now vital for the U.S. space program and NASA. Without Jackson’s contributions, we might not have made it into space and know its essential information. Many young girls look up to Jackson, and she has helped pave the way for women in math and science. Mary Jackson is a huge inspiration to women all over the world.