Describe Katherine Goble.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race, is a book by Margot Lee Shetterly about three women. Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson all worked at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration from the 1930s to the 1960s.

Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson was born as Katherine Coleman in West Virginia in 1918. "Goble" and "Johnson" were her married names. Katherine worked as a human-computer at the Flight Research Division at Langley before becoming an engineer there. She was an intelligent woman, well respected and trusted in her field. For example, before the Project Mercury Mission was due to take place, John Glenn asked Katherine to check numbers calculated by an IBM computer as he trusted her more than the machine. Glenn knew that if Katherine said the numbers were correct, then he could trust that they were.

However, despite this, Katherine still faced racism. She and other black workers were segregated from their white colleagues.

A white cardboard sign on a table in the back of the cafeteria beckoned them, its crisply stenciled black letters spelling out lunchroom hierarchy: COLORED COMPUTERS.

Black workers were also told to use different bathrooms to their white colleagues. But, Katherine would not tolerate discrimination and refused to use them. Katherine was a strong-minded, forthright, and honest woman who charmed the people who knew her.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team