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Hidden Figures: Black History Month

Posted on: 01/10/2019

Many of you may be aware that October is Black History Month. All this month people around the world celebrate the achievements of African Americans through the course of history. In far too many cases these achievements went completely unrecognised. In time we began to realise just how unacceptable this was. Black History Month is an opportunity to bring these incredible women and men to the limelight.

At DGS we love and celebrate diversity in every way we can. Throughout Black History Month we will share the stories of incredible individuals whose contribution went largely unrecognised. We will call this series of stories ‘Hidden Figures’. This week’s story is about Gladys West - mathematician who worked on satellite geodesy which was later incorporated into GPS.

Gladys West

From the satellite navigation in our cars, to tagging and checking in on social media posts, most of us use global positioning systems (GPS) daily. Gladys West’s work was instrumental in developing the mathematics behind GPS. Until recently, her story has remained largely hidden from the public. When West started her career at the Naval Surface Warfare Centre in Virginia in 1956, would you believe that only one other black woman and two black men worked alongside her? In her own words: "I carried that load round, thinking that I had to be the best that I could be." She also says she was "always doing things just right, to set an example for other people who were coming behind me, especially women. I strived hard to be tough and hang in there the best I could."

If you wish to find out more about West, thankfully there is now plenty on the internet. Let’s bring these incredible stories to life!

(A massive ‘Thank you’ to Miss Street for choosing some brilliant ‘Hidden Figures’ for us!)


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