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Arkansas’ ‘Hidden Figure’ Raye Montague Dies at 83

Raye Montague, Hidden Figure, Arkansas
Screenshot/Good Morning America

Arkansas’ own “hidden figure” who worked as an engineer for the U.S. Navy and was seen as a leader for women of color in the engineering field has died at age 83.

Raye Montague passed away on Wednesday at Baptist Medical Center in Little Rock, Arkansas, according to Pulaski County Coroner Gerone Hobbs, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

She had suffered from congestive heart failure, but no official cause of death has been released.

Montague developed a computer program that created rough drafts of Navy ship specifications, ultimately changing the way ships were designed.

She had spoken openly of discrimination she had faced based on her race and sex and said  a supervisor told her that she had the “right name but wrong sex” while they were discussing an opportunity for a promotion.

Her story was often compared to those of Katherine Goble Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, three African-American female mathematicians who were pioneers in America’s space program in the 1960s, and whose story was depicted in the 2016 film Hidden Figures. 

“I had to run circles around people, but when they found out I really knew what I was talking about they came to respect me,” Montague told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in 2012. “I worked long hours and traveled for the job because I couldn’t say I wanted the same wages as the guys if I couldn’t. I had to do all the same things, within reason, that they did.”

Check out an interview Montague and Janelle Monáe had with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America in 2017.

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