Black History Month, celebrated throughout the month of February, was designated as such by President Gerald Ford to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
That certainly include STEM fields, in which not only African Americans but also women, are traditionally underrepresented. This year, one local STEM professional and serious go-getter decided to change that perception for a group of underprivileged girls.
Ashley Nealy, who serves as the Web Team Lead for a U.S. Treasury department in her 9-to-5 life, heard the hype around the recently-released Hidden Figures movie, which chronicles the true story of female African American mathematicians working for NASA during the space race of the 1960’s. “As an African American woman working in STEM, and ironically for the government, I know how few women of color there are in this field,” Nealy says.
Nealy decided she would raise enough money to take 100 elementary and middle school-aged girls from underprivileged communities in the area to a screening of the movie. She reached out to her friends, family, and network through social media and within 36 hours had surpassed her goal of $1,000.
“I believe it’s very important that as many young girls as possible see this movie to know there’s a very realistic future for them in STEM,” says Nealy.