Margot Lee Shetterly has won a literary award for her book Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race.
In September Shetterly will be honored alongside several other authors at the 82nd annual Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards. Shetterly is the recipient of the Non-Fiction award.
Hidden Figures, which is Shetterly’s first book, not only became a bestseller but inspired the Oscar-nominated film of the same name, which was well-received commercially and critically in its own right.
Both tell the stories of Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson. The women were Black mathematicians who began working for NASA in the 1950s and helped astronaut John Glenn become the first American to make a complete orbit of the earth.
“The new Anisfield-Wolf winners broaden our insights on race and diversity,” Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who chairs the jury, said in a statement. “This year, we honor a breakthrough history of black women mathematicians powering NASA, a riveting novel of the Asian American experience, a mesmerizing, poetic exploration of forgotten black musical performance and a spellbinding story of violence and its consequences.”
Hidden Figures has not only been immortalized in a film but Legos. In late February it was announced that a “Women of NASA” Lego set was going to be created, with the collection including Johnson.
“Women have played critical roles throughout the history of the U.S. space program…yet in many cases, their contributions are unknown or under-appreciated — especially as women have historically struggled to gain acceptance in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM),” Maia Weinstock, a deputy editor of MIT News and the creator of the collection, originally wrote in her proposal.
It is unknown when the collection will drop but hopefully, we will see it in stores before the end of the year.