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Influential Black Women of Technology for Black History Month 2024

TRU Staffing Partners February 6, 2024 at 8:00 AM

This February 2024, TRU Staffing Partners honors the resilience, creativity, and intellectual contributions of Black American women outstanding in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), despite facing systemic barriers and discrimination along their paths to higher education.

Their legacy enriches every aspect of our professional lives and their pioneering efforts have shaped modern technology and inspired future generations to pursue careers in STEM. As a staffing agency that devotes itself to promoting the best, most diverse candidates available in data privacy, cybersecurity, and ediscovery TRU is proud to promote their advancements toward racial equity this Black History Month.
Some of these notable women include:


Some of these notable women include:

Katherine Johnson:
Johnson was a mathematician who worked for NASA and was instrumental in the success of the first staffed spaceflight in 1961. She developed calculations of orbital mechanics that were critical to the success of the first U.S. crewed spaceflights. Her work, while not directly in cybersecurity or data privacy, was pivotal in the evolution of computing and data analysis. Johnson faced racial and sex biases for much of her career at NASA – she was not allowed to put her name on reports she authored despite her superior expertise in data analysis — but always chose to focus on the job at hand and shared the same goals as her white counterparts.

Dorothy Vaughan:
Often called a “human computer” because of her amazing mathematical skills, Vaughan worked at NASA and the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). She was an expert in Fortran, a programming language used in the early days of computers. Her work in computing laid foundations that are fundamental to modern data processing and security. In 1949, she became the acting head of the West Area Computers, and then was the first black supervisor at NACA and one of few female supervisors. She led a group composed entirely of black women mathematicians. She served for years in an acting role before being promoted officially to the position of supervisor, where she worked to advance women in data processing and computing fields.

Mary Jackson:
NASA’s first Black female engineer, Jackson’s work in aerospace engineering helped advance technology in a way that would eventually intersect with the data processing and security fields. She worked with Dorothy Vaughan at West Area Computing until taking a role at NASA’s supersonic pressure tunnel. To become an engineer, Jackson was forced to petition the city of Hampton, Virginia, to take the necessary courses at an all-white school. She graduated, became an aerospace engineer, and worked at senior engineering levels in many areas of NASA.

Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson:
Jackson is a theoretical physicist who conducted groundbreaking research in condensed matter physics and was the first Black woman to earn a doctorate from MIT. A theoretical physicist, Jackson conducted breakthrough scientific research that laid the groundwork for numerous developments in telecommunications. These advancements indirectly impacted ediscovery, data privacy, and cybersecurity. She is also the second Black woman in the U.S. to earn a doctorate in physics. In 1995, President Clinton appointed Jackson to serve as chairperson of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the only Black woman to ever have that role.

Dr. Mae Jemison:
Jemison is first Black woman to travel to space, serving as a mission specialist aboard the Endeavor in 1992. Jemison then left NASA in 1993 and founded a technology research company as well as a nonprofit educational foundation. Jemison wrote several children’s books to inspire younger generations to be interested in space travel. She holds several honorary doctorates and has been inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame and the International Space Hall of Fame.

Dr. Gladys West:
West is a retired mathematician and computer programmer who developed the mathematical model that led to the creation of GPS. West worked at the Naval Proving Ground in Virginia, where she was one of only four Black employees. She managed processing systems for satellite data analysis. West worked to program computers to pinpoint extremely precise calculations for every point on earth and is credited with developing the satellite data for early GPS models.

Annie Easley:
A computer scientist, mathematician, and rocket scientist, Easley worked for NASA and was a leading figure in implementing code that led to the development of hybrid cars and contributed to future technology relevant to data security and ediscovery. Early in her career, Easley taught herself assembly programming using languages like Fortran and SOAP to enable her work at NASA simulating rocket launches and their effects on Earth’s ozone layer. She then learned to write code used in researching and analyzing alternative power technologies like batteries and fuel systems, which would be later used in hybrid vehicles and NASA’s Centaur upper-stage rocket.

These Black women, along with many others, have made significant contributions to STEM fields and have paved the way for future generations of Black women and men to pursue careers in these fields. Their work has helped to shape modern technology and has inspired countless individuals to pursue their passions in STEM. While these women might not have directly worked in data privacy, ESI, or cybersecurity, their pioneering efforts in STEM fields have been integral to the evolution of technology, which in turn, shaped these modern industries. We chose to highlight their contributions to provide a historical perspective on how far Black women have come in shaping the technological landscape.

If these examples of greatness in STEM fields inspire you to do more with your career, to reach your maximum potential, and contribute to the overall goals of your chosen industry, we applaud you. And we want to get to know you! As you progress in your career, let TRU’s deeply experienced talent agents help put you and your work in front of our clients and determine the best fit for you. Learn more about TRU Staffing Partners and view our open roles in ediscovery, data privacy and cybersecurity today.