Hidden Figures

McWane Science Center Birmingham, AL


Samantha Elliot-Briggs

Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) Program Director, University of Alabama School of Education


Calvin Briggs

Executive Director, Southern Center for Broadening Participation in STEM

Hidden Figures— Women and girls in STEM: challenges and opportunities

STEM-equity experts Samantha Elliot-Briggs and Calvin Briggs discuss the challenges and opportunities for women and girls—particularly women and girls of color—in STEM and STEM education. Part of the National Evening of Science on Screen.

McWane Science Center Birmingham, AL

Film Synopsis

A team of African American women provide NASA with important mathematical data needed to launch the program's first successful space missions.

As the United States raced against Russia to put a man in space, three brilliant African American women at NASA — Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) — became the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn (Glen Powell) into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation's confidence, turned around the Space Race, and captivated the world.

About the Speaker

Samantha Elliott Briggs has a doctoral degree in Instructional Leadership and a master’s degree in Women’s Studies from The University of Alabama, as well as a bachelors degree in Early Childhood Education from Clark Atlanta University. Dr. Briggs has over 20 years of experience in education as an urban school teacher, adjunct professor, curriculum writer, consultant, and director of non-profit education programs. In addition, Dr. Briggs is a consultant and curriculum specialist with her business, P.E.A.C.E. Consulting (Providing Equal Access to Children in Education). In this capacity, Dr. Briggs has served as an independent external evaluator on grant-funded initiatives. Dr. Briggs has authored both trade and juried publications as well as original curriculum for several non-profit education agencies. She has presented her research on local, state, national, and international platforms. Dr. Briggs has served GEAR UP Alabama as Region 5 Coordinator and Program and Communications Manager before becoming the Project Director in 2017.

Calvin Briggs, Ed.D, is a STEM advocate promoting data-driven policy and instructional “best practices” that increase interest, retention, completion, and leadership in STEM college and career pathways.