One of your contributors submitted some commentary on Hidden Figures, which I won't watch, but I can comment a little bit on the nature of the work that those gals did. We did similar exercises in my high school physics class. It's nothing to sneeze at but by no means groundbreaking work. Women (white women too) were employed as "computers" to perform the same calculations multiple times, as a way to avoid error. If everyone turns in the homework assignment and the answers are all the same, it provides some assurance that the calculation is correct. I love the pictures of the white men wearing white short sleeve shirts and skinny black ties, focused like lasers.
Excitement in the Control Room (1965)
Excitement in the Control Room (1965) This is a photograph, dated May 25, 1965, of a group of NASA officials observing the early flight of the Saturn SA-8 ...