Mary Jackson

Mary Jackson

2nd Feb 2020 2:52pm

Childhood and Family Life.

Mary Jackson was born in 1921 and grew up in Hampton, Virginia, where she graduated from George P. Phenix Training School with the highest honours. She earned bachelor’s degrees in maths and physical science from Hampton University in 1942.

Career Achievements and role at NASA.

Mary taught mathematics for around a year at a school in Calvert County, Maryland. Mary became a bookkeeper after returning to Hampton, Maryland in 1943. She worked as a receptionist and clerk at the Hampton Institute’s Health Department, during this time she was pregnant and eventually moved home to give birth to her son. In 1951 she was recruited by NACA which she started as a research mathematician/computer, at the Langley Research Centre in her hometown of Hampton, Virginia. She worked under Dorothy Vaughan in the segregated computing section. In 1953 she accepted an offer to work for an engineer called Kazimierz Czarnecki in the Supersonic Pressure Tunnel. Kazimierz encouraged Mary to get training so that she could be promoted to an engineer, her goal was to understand air flow, including thrust and drag forces, in order to improve planes. By 1979 Mary had achieved the most senior title within the engineering department and decided to get a demotion to serve as an administrator in the Equal Opportunity Specialist field. After getting training at NASA headquarters, she returned to Langley.

Experiences with Social Conflict.

Mary Jackson and all other African Americans working at NASA were required to work, eat, and use restrooms separate from white people. And her office was labelled “Colored Computers”. In 1953 when Kazimierz told Mary to get training to be promoted to engineer she had to petition the City of Hampton to allow her to attend classes, from which she was successful and became NASA’s first black female engineer.

Achievements later in life.

Received 12 awards, Had a school named after her in Salt Lake City.

Other interesting information.

Mary Jackson was a Girl Scout leader for more than 30 years. She had 2 Children. She died on February 11th, 2005 at the age of 83.