Lego Excludes Important ‘Hidden Figure’ From Women Of NASA Collection

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Lego was unable to obtain the necessary approval to include African-American mathematician Katherine Johnson in its new collection celebrating women of NASA.

Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, and Katherine Johnson (in wheelchair) on stage at the Oscars

Lego’s new Women of NASA collection, scheduled to hit shelves next month, has raised eyebrows for excluding an important heroine.

Last year, science writer Maia Weinstock submitted a proposal to Lego to create figurines honoring influential women of NASA and space exploration, which is now being turned into a reality.

Her initial idea included Margaret Hamilton, a computer scientist who developed the flight software that powered the Apollo moon missions; Sally Ride, the first American woman in space who rode the space shuttle in 1983; Nancy Grace Roman, an astronomer whose planning helped make the Hubble Space Telescope a reality; Katherine Johnson, a NASA mathematician who calculated trajectories for the Mercury and Apollo programs; and Mae Jemison, who in 1992 became the first African-American woman in space.

However, the first glimpse into the final version of the Lego set reveals that Johnson — who was also featured in the recent film “Hidden Figures” — was left out.

“In order for us to move forward with a partner we need to obtain approval from all key people, which was not possible in this case. We naturally fully respect this decision,” a company representative reportedly told Gizmodo.

The reason that Lego was unable to obtain the necessary approval to include Johnson is unknown, but the company chose to move forward with the project without her.

While it is exciting and long overdue for an iconic collection of this nature to be produced, the exclusion of Johnson makes the work feel very incomplete. Perhaps this is just the first wave of a series of women in science that Lego will be celebrating, and Johnson may be added to a future set — but, we'll have to wait and see.

However, the lack of transparency surrounding the reason behind why she was nixed from this set in the first place gives the disheartening impression that whoever had the power to give approval didn’t think Johnson’s contributions were worthy of recognition, thus keeping her efforts and work “hidden.” 

Banner/Thumbnail Photo Credit: Reuters, Stefan Wermuth

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