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Why everyone should see Hidden Figures - the film that shows how a ladies loo can change everything

A still from Hidden Figures
A still from Hidden Figures

It might sound odd. But some of the most memorable scenes in Hidden Figures don’t revolve around outer space but the ladies loo.

The film, released here last week, tells the unknown story of Nasa’s black female mathematicians. Specifically, three brilliant women: numbers whizz Katherine Johnson (played by Taraji P Henson), Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) and Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer). Together they played an instrumental role in getting astronaut John Glenn into space, in 1962, and back again.

But in the process these “human computers” worked in a windowless basement, were denied promotion, forced to eat in a segregated canteen, and had to use separate bathrooms.

When Johnson is transferred to an all-white campus, she discovers that there is no “colored” ladies loo, and must run half a mile in high heels just for a pee.

“What do you do for 40 minutes each day?” shouts her boss Al Harrison,...

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