Agnes Scott College

Mary Jackson


April 9, 1921 - February 11, 2005

Contributed by Jordan Adeyemi, Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter NH

Mary Jackson was a popular African American mathematician and engineer who was born on April 9, 1921. Her background is in Hampton, Virginia. There, she attended college at Hampton University and earned bachelor's degrees in mathematics and physical science. Many words could be said to describe her. Many would initially think of the word pioneer as she was most famous for being the first African American woman engineer to work at NASA. During her time at NASA, she was responsible for authoring many books and research reports that were dedicated to the behavior of the boundary layer of air around airplanes. Her work and foundation within the space program will forever have an impact in technology and the world.

After over three decades of her involvement with NASA, she became part of an activist foundation that supports women and encourages them to get quality jobs/positions such as engineering. This foundation was infamously known as "Langley's Federal Women's Program Manager." She felt the need to leave her job due to the constant discrimination and mistreatment she experienced while working. Outside of her work at NASA, she is an international skier and tutor/educator. Her background is in Hampton, Virginia. After her passing, she became a recipient of the "Congressional Gold Medal," due to her contributions to NASA during the space race.

She died in 2005, but her achievements, bravery, perseverance and intelligence during her life continues to inspire African Americans, women and aspiring mathematicians to this very day.


  1. Margot Lee Shetterly, "Mary Jackson Biography",
  2. "Mary Jackson, American mathematician and engineer",
  3. "Hidden Figures: Mary Jackson",