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New Hidden Figures-Inspired STEM Initiative Shows the Importance of Media Representation

And now for a change of pace: some good news from the government! Hidden Figures may have run its traditional theatrical course, but it hasn’t faded from the minds of those it might inspire. In fact, the United States State Department was bombarded with so many screening requests from foreign embassies that a publicly funded exchange for women in STEM is now in the works.

The Hollywood Reporter states that the film received about 80 of these foreign screenings over the course of April and May, which prompted the department’s International Visitor Leadership Program to take notice of the potential to build on that momentum. The exchange program, #HiddenNoMore, will bring 50 women who work in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math), from 50 different countries in Africa, Europe, Asia, and Latin America, to the U.S.

Once here, they’ll break into groups and meet with organizations like universities and the Girl Scouts that promote the inclusion of women in STEM—in addition to 20th Century Fox hosting a two-day event for them on the studio lot. Hopefully, their insight and accomplishments will inspire even more women to follow in their footsteps. “Our goal is to get people from diverse communities talking about these issues,” said Stacy White, office director of the IVLP.

In case the general success of Hidden Figures hadn’t clued everyone in already, this and other initiatives like it, which Fox has already been financially bolstering, send a clear message that telling these stories can make a big impact—and not just on movie studios’ bottom lines. The more women and girls get inspired by the accomplishments of women like Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and the women of #HiddenNoMore, the more likely it is we’ll have even more of those stories to tell in the future, and some impressive achievements for humanity to go along with them.

(via Jezebel, image: 20th Century Fox)

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Dan Van Winkle (he) is an editor and manager who has been working in digital media since 2013, first at now-defunct Geekosystem (RIP), and then at The Mary Sue starting in 2014, specializing in gaming, science, and technology. Outside of his professional experience, he has been active in video game modding and development as a hobby for many years. He lives in North Carolina with Lisa Brown (his wife) and Liz Lemon (their dog), both of whom are the best, and you will regret challenging him at Smash Bros.