Who’s the important woman missing from the new “Women of NASA” Lego set?

When we think of powerful, intelligent women, we have to think of NASA. So many incredible women helped shape the program and teach us about the importance of science, astronomy, and engineering. When Lego announced a “Women of NASA” set back in February, originally proposed by Maia Weinstock, we couldn’t help but cheer. But in comparison to the proposal that Weinstock created on the Lego Ideas website, there’s one notable woman who, unfortunately, didn’t make the cut.

First, here’s a little bit of information on who’ll be included.

Lego will be adding computer scientist Margaret Hamilton to the “Women of NASA” set. The modernized on-board software is largely credited to her. Nancy G. Roman, one of the first females in charge at NASA, will also be memorialized in the upcoming set.

Mae Jemison is an incredibly important addition, since back in 1992, she became the first African American woman to travel in space. Obviously Sally Ride, who so many of us learned about back in school, was included in the proposal. A physicist and astronaut, she became the very first woman who went to space.

So, who’s missing? Katherine Johnson, a research mathematician who many of you might recognize from the film Hidden Figures, as portrayed by Taraji P. Henson.

Back in 2015, Johnson won the National Medal of Freedom for her work. She’s been working with NASA since the 1950’s, so she’s a notable omission.

However, Lego was quick to explain why.

"In order for us to move forward with a partner we need to obtain approval from all key people, which was not possible in this case," a company representative said to Gizmodo. "We naturally fully respect this decision."

One of Johnson’s many notable credits is being responsible for planning the trajectory for Alan Shepard, who was the first American in space.

While it’s a shame that she isn’t included in the “Women of NASA” set, we can appreciate Johnson’s numerous contributions in many other ways. For one, we can make sure that young women who are interested in pursuing a career in mathematics learn her story.