Hartford Public Schools acting Superintendent Leslie Torres-Rodriguez gathered a group of female students from the district for a movie screening of Hidden Figures, reports US News & World Report.
“As you think about the movie … think about the fact that you can do anything – anything – as good as and sometimes, and oftentimes, better, better, than men,” Torres-Rodriguez said, according to the Associated Press.
She continued: “So, don’t let anyone tell you that you are not capable, OK? So, you’ve got to dig in, find your grit, and be all that you can.”
Hartford schools are not alone in using the film to inspire girls of color. Schools across the country have been screening the film for female students.
The film documents the little-known true story about the African-American female mathematicians and scientists working for NASA who were instrumental in helping launch the first American into orbit. They persevered despite the gender and racial biases impeding their progress.
Bulkeley High School Principal Gayle Allen-Greene lamented that the women’s contributions are not in textbooks.
“We shouldn’t have had to come to the movies to find this out,” she told the girls in a discussion after the they viewed the film.
Cavana Carey, a Bulkeley senior who wants to be a pediatrician, told the group that she doesn’t get encouragement from people in her circle, but she felt stronger after watching the film.
“I felt it paved a way for me to want to persevere and go for the career that I choose,” said 17-year-old Cavana.
US News said a panel of Black and Latina “girl-power STEM role models” spoke with the students after the film. They encouraged the girls to persevere through “the microaggressions” they will face as women of color in industries dominated by men.