In October 2017, 21st Century Fox partnered with the U.S. Department of State to launch the #HiddenNoMore initiative, which brought emerging female leaders in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) from 48 countries to the U.S. for three weeks of professional development. The program was inspired by the overwhelming international response to the Fox film Hidden Figures and marked the first time that a Hollywood movie inspired a publicly funded educational exchange.
Hidden Figures tells the previously untold story of three female African American mathematicians working at NASA who played critical roles in the Space Race of the 1960s. Following the film's theatrical release, the State Department received an unprecedented number of requests from international embassies and missions for screenings and subsequently organized viewings in more than 100 locations. To build on this momentum, the Department then collaborated with 21CF to develop an international exchange program based around the movie, called #HiddenNoMore, as a nod to the women in STEM across the globe still striving to have their voices heard.
The objectives were as follows:
1. Empower participants with effective strategies to increase female involvement in STEM in their home countries;
2. Bring diverse audiences together to spark conversations about the future of STEM;
3. Connect female STEM leaders in other countries with their counterparts in the U.S. and elsewhere;
4. Provide much-needed female representation in the STEM fields on a global scale;
5. Continue to leverage Hidden Figures as a powerful tool in inspiring women in STEM.
To meet these goals, 21CF and the State Department took the following steps together:
1. Collaborate with U.S. embassies and missions around the world to identify eligible female STEM leaders, such as scientists, engineers, and educators, who are already doing outstanding work in their fields and leading the charge for gender equality in their own countries
2. Bring these women to the U.S. for three weeks of study and professional development
3. Arrange participants' visits to the nation's top universities, nonprofits, and businesses to share resources and thought leadership
4. Develop the most effective tools and tactics to engage more women and girls about STEM
5. Provide up-close looks at the latest advances in science and technology across multiple industries in the U.S.
6. Prioritize media activation that celebrates the participants' accomplishments
7. Showcase the participants and their work through extensive media engagement
8. Establish an international network for these and other female STEM leaders as they continue the fight for gender equality after the program concludes
The State Department launched #HiddenNoMore as part of its International Visitor Leadership Program, through which professional exchanges are regularly organized for emerging foreign leaders in a variety of fields. With the Hidden Figures film serving as the centerpiece for #HiddenNoMore, 21CF took a lead role in organizing the women's visit. The company hosted the opening and closing days of the three-week program at National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C., and the Fox Studios Lot in Los Angeles, respectively.
Opening day included a screening of Hidden Figures, a tour of the National Geographic museum, which draws on the organization's 130-year history to bring to life some of humankind's most significant scientific achievements, and presentations from National Geographic Magazine Editor-in-Chief Susan Goldberg and Emerging Explorer Katy Croff Bell, an oceanographer who spoke about her experience using cutting-edge deep sea technology.
Three weeks later, 21CF hosted the trip's grand-finale on the Fox Lot in LA. The company organized two days of programming designed to highlight women's leadership, the role of STEM in the entertainment business, and the transformative power of storytelling. The day's program included tours of the studio lot and archives; a behind-the-scenes look at virtual reality projects in development at the Fox Innovation Lab; panel discussion and networking with Women in Technology at 21CF; speakers including Vanessa Morrison, Head of Fox Family, Powtawche Valerino, Navigation Engineer from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Margarita Marinova, Senior Mars Development Engineer at SpaceX.
For the three weeks in between, the 48 participants travelled across the U.S. in smaller cohorts, visiting labs, schools, start-ups, and other loci of innovation in Albuquerque NM, Chicago IL, Greensboro NC, Lincoln NE, Louisville KY, Pensacola FL, Seattle WA, Syracuse NY, and Tulsa OK. They explored best practices in the effective recruitment, training, and development of women and other underrepresented groups in STEM and learned how they might institutionalize opportunities for women in their own countries.
#HiddenNoMore participants engaged with businesses, research labs, and universities across 11 U.S. cities in just three weeks. Many of them are already working in their home countries to implement the strategies they developed during the program, creating new websites, engaging young women online, launching new programs in schools and community centers, and hosting local events. The participants also gained a lasting support network of accomplished peers working toward similar goals around the world, allowing for continued collaboration and shared resources.
In addition, the program illustrated the lasting power of Hidden Figures and its continued universality and relevance to the fight for gender equality in STEM fields. The story of Katherine Johnson and her colleagues in the '60s has become a kind of shorthand for the need to celebrate women in STEM in their own time, rather than decades afterwards. As a result of its success, the program was renewed for a second trip to take part in the fall of 2018 with a new cohort of female STEM leaders.
By welcoming these women to the U.S. and showcasing their work in the press, the program helps address the issue of media representation and empowers new communities in other countries with the tools they need to celebrate women in STEM, as well. 21CF is committed to developing the next generation of female leaders in the STEM fields, and the company's contributions to #HiddenNoMore help ensure that more women are pursuing STEM careers in communities all over the world.