Inspirational Women of Virginia

Influential Women who Helped Shape this Great Commonwealth


If you are one of the many who saw the movie ‘Hidden Figures’, you have met Mary Jackson. The movie highlights her life as a NASA engineer during the space race of the 1960’s.   Despite the limitations placed on women, and despite the stereotypes about black women, Ms. Jackson believed in her own abilities and trusted that she could work in any profession she chose.  She never considered herself a ‘female engineer”, or a ‘black engineer”, she simply went about the work of an engineer and pursued doing work that was suitable for the very best. That is precisely who she became, the very best, eventually earning the opportunity to leave the segregated divisions of NASA to become a supervisor. NASA will name its Washington, D.C., headquarters after Mary W. Jackson, the first black woman engineer at the agency, NASA announced July 8, 2020, as leaders across the country reexamine which historical figures are memorialized in public spaces in the wake of protests against police brutality and racism.

Despite the respect that the title would earn her, Ms. Jackson refused the promotion.  Putting herself second, and her beliefs first, she accepted a position in the Federal Woman’s Program at the association. Because of her principals and steadfast work, other women and people of color were able to build careers for themselves at every level in the space program.  Ms. Jackson’s influence is felt every day.  She is one of Virginia’s most influential women.

Learn more about Mary Jackson here..