Past Trailblazer and a Present-Day Disruptor Shape Women’s History

February 25, 2020 12:31 pm Published by
In physics, trajectory is defined by position and motion over time. It is the same for a career path, where obstacles and headwinds must be navigated. It is fitting then, with Women’s History Month in March and International Women’s Day on March 8, to recognize two individuals whose accomplishments continue to pave the way for women innovators.

Reshma Saujani is the Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, a global nonprofit addressing gender disparity in tech. On Feb. 24, she learned with the rest of the world that Katherine Johnson, the trailblazing mathematician who contributed to many historic U.S. space missions, had passed away.

“Once a hidden figure, #KatherineJohnson counted her way to the moon and forever changed the course of history,” Saujani said on Twitter. “May her legacy and her bravery continue to inspire women and girls all over the world to do and be anything they want to be.”

Johnson was one of three African American women portrayed in the 2016 Oscar-nominated film “Hidden Figures,” which chronicled their vital roles at NASA in the early stages of the U.S. space program.

“Ms. Johnson helped our nation enlarge the frontiers of space even as she made huge strides that also opened doors for women and people of color in the universal human quest to explore space,” said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.

Saujani, the first Indian American woman to run for U.S. Congress, is one of many continuing Johnson’s tradition of inspiration. Her TED talk, “Teach girls, bravery not perfection,” has reached nearly 5 million views. And, in 2019, Fast Company recognized Girls Who Code as the Most Innovative Not-for-Profit.

Born in 1918, Katherine Johnson was more than a witness to the dramatic social and technological changes of the 20th century; she was a catalyst for both. Today, led by disruptors like Reshma Sujani and her growing legion of Girls Who Code, women continue to propel American ingenuity forward.