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Hidden Figure: Mary Jackson

November 2016

Full Name: Mary Winston Jackson
Birthdate: April 9,1921
Hampton, Virginia
Bachelor of Science degrees in Mathematics and Physical Science from Hampton Institute in 1942
Work Dates: 1950 - 1985
Center: Langley Memorial Research Center
West Computers; 4ft Supersonic Pressure Tunnel and eventually
assigned to work directly with the flight test engineers

Excerpted from "Hidden Figures: The Untold Story That’s Long Overdue" on

Hidden Figures at SpelmanAfter graduating from Hampton, Jackson began her career there as a research mathematician, or computer, at the Langley Research Center. After five years at NASA and after taking several additional courses, she joined a special training program and was promoted to aerospace engineer.

She then worked to analyze data from wind tunnel experiments and real-world aircraft flight experiments at the Theoretical Aerodynamics Branch of the Subsonic-Transonic Aerodynamics Division at Langley. Her goal was to understand air flow, including thrust and drag forces. Many years later, she was assigned to work with the flight engineers at NASA.

Jackson worked to help women and other minorities to advance their careers, including advising them how to study so that they could change their titles from “mathematician” to “engineer” to increase their chances of promotion.

Jackson also spent twenty years as a Girl Scout leader and was noted for helping Black children in her community create a miniature wind tunnel. After 34 years at NASA, Jackson reached the highest level of engineer that was possible for her without becoming a supervisor. She decided to take a pay cut and change positions to become an administrator in the Equal Opportunity Specialist field and retired in 1985. 

She was married with two children. She died on February 11, 2005.

Read More About Hidden Figures and Spelman's Math Majors on the Move

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