Hidden Figures


Margot Lee Shetterly

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William Waldron Schieffelin Claytor Character Analysis

William Waldron Schieffelin Claytor is a black research mathematician who graduates from Howard University in 1929 and earns a PhD in math from the University of Pennsylvania in 1933 (only the third black person in the country to do so). He mentors Katherine Johnson and encourages her to pursue graduate study in mathematics.

William Waldron Schieffelin Claytor Quotes in Hidden Figures

The Hidden Figures quotes below are all either spoken by William Waldron Schieffelin Claytor or refer to William Waldron Schieffelin Claytor . 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.
Chapter 8 Quotes

As if trying to redeem his own professional disappointment through the achievements of one of the few students whose ability matched his impossibly high standards, Claytor maintained an unshakable belief that Katherine could meet with a successful future in mathematical research, all odds to the contrary. The prospects for a Negro woman in the field could be viewed only as dismal. If Dorothy Vaughan had been able to accept Howard University's offer of graduate admission, she likely would have been Claytor's only female classmate, with virtually no postgraduate career options outside of teaching, even with a master's degree in hand. In the 1930s, just over a hundred women in the United States worked as professional mathematicians. Employers openly discriminated against Irish and Jewish women with math degrees; the odds of a black woman encountering work in the field hovered near zero.

Page Number: 74
Explanation and Analysis:
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William Waldron Schieffelin Claytor Character Timeline in Hidden Figures

The timeline below shows where the character William Waldron Schieffelin Claytor appears in Hidden Figures. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3: Past is Prologue
Community  Theme Icon
...too had graduated early from high school and enrolled at a nearby black college. There, William Waldron Schieffelin Claytor , a brilliant black mathematician who was only the third black man in the country... (full context)
Chapter 8: Those Who Move Forward
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Community  Theme Icon
...College as a fifteen-year-old freshman with a full academic scholarship. She worked under math professor William Waldron Schieffelin Claytor . Claytor created advanced math classes just for her and he encouraged her to become... (full context)
Chapter 17: Outer Space
Racism and Inequality Theme Icon
Community  Theme Icon
Luck, Persistent Action, and Hard Work  Theme Icon
Scientific Progress vs. Social and Political Progress Theme Icon
...by preparing charts and equations for space technology lectures. She uses what she’s learned under Dr. Claytor to write a textbook for space travel in real time. She wants to go to... (full context)