The NYQ posse (a name that has yet to catch on) headed to Nottingham’s fantastic independent cinema Broadway on Wednesday 8th March to commemorate International Women’s Day. Several of us had gone so far as to celebrate by actually being a woman, but this was not a requirement. Starting in Broadway’s cafe, we took advantage of their 2 for 1 pizzas offer with gusto.
Feeling thoroughly fortified, we were then treated to a screening of Hidden Figures, an Oscar-nominated film which told the true story of the African-American women who did the mathematical calculations and programming for the first US space flights. Their contribution has been almost erased from common knowledge, so it was brilliant to see their achievements given such a high profile with this beautifully-made film. We laughed, cried and cheered as Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae and Taraji P. Henson brought these women to life in a world of mediocre white men and hostile white women. I can’t remember the last time I saw a film with a majority black cast, and having more diverse representation was hugely rewarding.
After the film, there was a panel discussion with four women of colour in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths). I really appreciated hearing from these high-achieving women about their work in a field that is dominated by white men both in perception and reality. There was some interesting discussion about how the lack of women and people of colour working in these areas can be addressed (capped by the astonishing information that engineers are 92% men and 94% white), and I loved hearing about panel and audience members’ ‘science journeys’. I was struck by one panel member’s comment that her enthusiasm for her research into Alzheimer’s disease came from her sense of contributing in an indirect way to the larger effort – how very Quaker of her!
All in all, a great evening appreciating the contributions of women of colour, and considering how we can help their achievements can become a matter of public knowledge and celebration. Is there a better way to spend a Wednesday?