NASA mathematicians Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Dr. Christine Darden have left indelible marks in the realm of STEM. The women—who broke racial and gender barriers—will be honored for their pivotal contributions to space exploration. According to CNN, they will be awarded Congressional Gold Medals.
The bill to honor the trailblazers was introduced by U.S. Senators Kamala D. Harris, Lisa Murkowski, and Chris Coons. U.S. Representatives Frank Lucas and Eddie Bernice Johnson were also instrumental in bringing this effort to fruition. Through the bill the women will be bestowed with Congressional Gold Medals which is the highest civilian honor in the country. Jackson and Vaughan will be honored posthumously. The bill—which is dubbed the Hidden Figures Congressional Gold Medal Act—will also honor every woman who worked at NASA during the Space Race. It’s being supported by several organizations including the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the United Negro College Fund, the Association for Women in Math, and the National Congress of Black Women.
“Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Dr. Christine Darden made monumental contributions to science and our nation,” said Senator Harris in a statement. “The groundbreaking accomplishments of these four women, and all of the women who contributed to the success of NASA, helped us win the space race but remained in the dark far too long. I am proud our bill to honor these remarkable women has passed Congress. These pioneers remain a beacon for Black women across the country, both young and old.”
The pioneers—who inspired the film Hidden Figures—have received several honors for their historic contributions. In June, NASA renamed the street in front of its headquarters “Hidden Figures Way” to celebrate the legacies of the women.