Hidden Figures

by

Margot Lee Shetterly

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Hidden Figures can help.

Margot Lee Shetterly Character Analysis

Margot Shetterly is the author of Hidden Figures and the daughter of a climate research scientist who worked at Langley Research Center. Growing up, Shetterly would visit her father often at his office at Langley, but she did not find it remarkable that so many black scientists—including black women—worked there. Shetterly was inspired to write Hidden Figures when she realized that the community of black professionals and intellectuals within which she grew up was a result of a unique intersection of war, technology, civil rights, and the persistent efforts of underrepresented scientists, particularly black women. Inspired by these women, who helped put a man on the moon, Shetterly sets about documenting their experiences as thoroughly as she can. Though only a few of the pioneering black female mathematicians who work at Langley are still alive, Shetterly manages to interview many people who knew them, and she spends years writing their story.

Margot Lee Shetterly Quotes in Hidden Figures

The Hidden Figures quotes below are all either spoken by Margot Lee Shetterly or refer to Margot Lee Shetterly. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the William Morrow Paperbacks edition of Hidden Figures published in 2016.
Prologue Quotes

Before a computer became an inanimate object, and before Mission Control landed in Houston; before Sputnik changed the course of history, and before the NACA became NASA; before the Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka established that separate was in fact not equal, and before the poetry of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s "I Have a Dream" speech rang out over the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Langley's West Computers were helping America dominate aeronautics, space research, and computer technology, carving out a place for themselves as female mathematicians who were also black, black mathematicians who were also female. For a group of bright and ambitious African American women, diligently prepared for a mathematical career and eager for a crack at the big leagues, Hampton, Virginia, must have felt like the center of the universe.

Related Characters: Margot Lee Shetterly (speaker)
Page Number: xviii
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2 Quotes

Dorothy worked as a math teacher…. As a college graduate and a teacher, she stood near the top of what most Negro women could hope to achieve. Teachers were considered the "upper level of training and intelligence in the race” a ground force of educators who would not just impart book learning but live in the Negro community and "direct its thoughts and head its social movements.” Her in-laws were mainstays of the town's Negro elite. They owned a barbershop, a pool hall, and a service station. The family's activities were regular fodder for the social column in the Farmville section of the Norfolk journal and Guide, the leading Negro newspaper in the southeastern United States. Dorothy, her husband, Howard, and their four young children lived in a large, rambling Victorian house on South Main Street with Howard's parents and grandparents.

Related Characters: Margot Lee Shetterly (speaker), Dorothy Vaughan, Howard Vaughan
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Hidden Figures LitChart as a printable PDF.
Hidden Figures PDF

Margot Lee Shetterly Character Timeline in Hidden Figures

The timeline below shows where the character Margot Lee Shetterly appears in Hidden Figures. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue
Community  Theme Icon
The author, Margot Lee Shetterly, visits her parents in Hampton, VA, where she grew up. Shetterly’s father recalls that “a... (full context)
Community  Theme Icon
Shetterly once spent her days off from school at her father’s office at the Langley Research... (full context)
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Community  Theme Icon
Scientific Progress vs. Social and Political Progress Theme Icon
Shetterly realizes that the community of black scientists and mathematicians at Langley—and particularly the black women—have... (full context)
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Community  Theme Icon
Shetterly’s interest in the NACA’s hidden figures becomes an obsession. She wants to memorialize their accomplishments... (full context)
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Shetterly’s hometown today looks like any other town in America. It is no longer segregated and... (full context)