IBM Uses “Hidden Figures” History To Tell Us About Hidden Figures In STEM Today

WHAT: IBM’s Hidden Figures-themed documentary video series.

WHO: Ogilvy & Mather New York, IBM, the cast and author of Hidden Figures.

WHY WE CARE: Hidden Figures has been an unexpected Oscar season smash. Box office observers expected it to do well, but nobody anticipated a $22.8 million opening weekend. There are a few reasons it’s done well–it’s charming, the cast is fantastic, it tells a story about a fascinating time in American history–but chief among them is that it puts front and center the fact that America has always been built by smart people, and some of those smart people haven’t gotten enough attention for their potential (or their accomplishments).

In these mini-documentaries from IBM, they pivot nicely from highlighting the history behind Hidden Figures to showing what girls and women–especially girls of color–are doing in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. Getting more diversity in STEM has always been important, and Hidden Figures makes clear why (spoiler: without mathematicians like the ones we follow through the movie, John Glenn dies in space!). It’s great to see IBM drawing the line between the figures who are being celebrated in the film, and the others whose accomplishments may be worthy of movies of their own some day.DS