A Real Hidden Figure

With the recent film “Hidden Figures” buzzing around in the news, people are digging deeper into parts of history that our textbooks may have left out.

When thinking about the Navy and the people who first designed a naval ship, I bet you would have never guessed it was a woman. Not mention an African American woman. Raye Montague was the first person EVER, yes I really mean ever, to design a United States naval ship on a computer.



Montague was not only the first woman to design a naval ship, but she was literally the first person ever to accomplish this. While she may have been skipped over in textbooks, she deserves recognition for this achievement.


First off, Raye Montague is from Little Rock, Arkansas and was born on January 21, 1935. This makes her 82 years old this year. This sweet little old lady is extremely humble about her achievement. She recently did an interview on Good Morning America, check it out below if you would like to watch it to learn more.



Her interest in engineering started when she was just a young girl. The only thing is that people constantly told her that she shouldn’t worry about engineering stuff because she was an African American girl. These comments only pushed Montague to work harder to prove people wrong.



To start off her engineering career, she went to the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, which led to her receiving her degree in 1956. Eventually, she went on to work for the military in the Naval Branch after her exceptional abilities helped her stand out.


She quickly became interested in computers and how they worked. She spent lots of time experimenting with computers and soon became very good at using them.  In the Navy, she started out as a digital computer systems operator, and eventually became the computer systems analyst.


Her knowledge revolving around computers was beginning to surpass her male peers. After many years, the men became frustrated with her intelligence and accomplishments so she was given the job of completing the design of a new ship within 2 months time.

Being the smart, strong woman she was, Montague was able to finish designing the ship in less than 1 day!



From this day on, this naval ship design has been used multiple times, and a modified version is still used today. In the interview Montague says that, not only was she the first person to design a ship on a computer, she was also “the first female program manager of ships in the history of the navy.”


All of Montague’s hard work and determination led to her being awarded with: the Navy’s Meritorious Civilian Service Award, the Manufacturing Engineers Achievement Award, and she was put into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame.



This women has had a major effect on our history, so why have we never heard of her? We may never know, but what matters most is that she is getting the recognition she deserves now. Without Raye Montague, who knows how long it would have taken us to develop these naval ships.


Raye Montague is an amazing woman who is a role model to young woman and girls everywhere. When people told her she couldn’t do something because of her race and gender, she took those comments and used them to motivate her to succeed. We should all learn from her and follow what she has done. We need to be strong women like Raye Montague because we can do whatever we want and we shouldn’t let men tell us what we can and can’t do.



So stay strong ladies and go out there and show your intelligence!