Shetterly’s Book Is UMW’s Next Common Read

Margot Lee Shetterly's  book  will be the UMW fall 2017 common read.

Margot Lee Shetterly’s book Hidden Figures will be the UMW fall 2017 common read.

Incoming first-year students will learn in-depth about the crucial role a team of female African-American mathematicians played in the early days of America’s space program.

The university has selected Margot Lee Shetterly’s Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race as the common read for 2017-18. Students receive the book at orientation in June and join the campus community in a discussion of the book in August.

Throughout the year, university events feature themes from the reading. The program includes a lecture and campus visit by the author.

Hidden Figures will be the UMW fall 2017 common read.

Hidden Figures was the basis of an Academy Award-nominated movie.

In March 2017, the Fredericksburg area’s Central Rappahannock Regional Library held a lecture and book-signing by Shetterly at Dodd Auditorium in UMW’s George Washington Hall. Every seat was taken, many attendees stood at the sides of the auditorium, and an overflow crowd watched the talk on a screen in the lobby. Shetterly signed books for two hours afterward.

Hidden Figures explores the intersection of the civil rights era, the Space Race, the Cold War, and the movement for gender equality. A movie based on the book has been a box-office hit and was nominated for three Academy Awards. 

A journalist and researcher, Shetterly grew up in Hampton, Virginia, where her father was a NASA research scientist. She knew many of the women she would later write about in Hidden Figures, though she didn’t fully recognize the significance of their work until she was an adult visiting her parents.

Only then did she realize that these ordinary women – whom she’d known from church, the community, and her parents’ career circles – were also extraordinary in their mathematical and scientific achievements.


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