‘Hidden Figures’ Inspired the US State Department to Create a STEM Exchange Program for Women
Behold, the power of female stories.
Hollywood still has the power to affect meaningful change — just ask the filmmakers behind “Hidden Figures.”
The Oscar-nominated film told the stories of three real black women who worked at NASA in the 1960s, and launched a global conversation about women of color and their often-unseen, uncredited roles in helping bring about scientific discoveries and progress.
Now, the United States Department of State is taking a page from the “Hidden Figures” playbook and launching an educational exchange program for women called #HiddenNoMore.
The program will invite 50 women who work in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields from 50 countries to come to the United States this October to meet with universities and women’s organizations and to exchange cultural and educational ideas, according to Vox.
The wild success of “Hidden Figures,” which earned $230 million after it was released in 2016, caught the attention of employees at the State Department, which reportedly called the production company, Fox 2000, saying it had been inundated with requests to screen the film at embassies abroad, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The movie was screened at 80 overseas locations, and the department’s International Visitor Leadership Program had an idea.
"We really wanted to build on the momentum," Stacy White, office director of the IVLP, told the magazine.
When the 50 women chosen for the program arrive in D.C. in October for the conference, they’ll get a chance to watch “Hidden Figures” at National Geographic, and then will spend three weeks touring the US to meet with organizations, according to the report.
The idea is “to get people from diverse communities talking about these issues that are vital to long-term US security and prosperity,” White said.
The head of social impact for the studio that made the film, Lisa Rubenstein of 21st Century Fox, said the film had “taken on a life of its own and sparked things we’ve never seen before.”
The new program is proof that stories about women — especially untold stories, like those of women in science and math — can change the world.
Hopefully, the stories of the women in the #HiddenNoMore program will get the chance to do that beginning this fall.