Mary Golda Ross is the first known Amerindian engineer in the country and, throughout her career, contributes to essential aerospace technology. However, like many others in STEM, her name and contributions have been historically neglected.
On the international day of women and girls in science, Harper’s Bazaar and Olay joined forces with the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum this year to create a new permanent statue honoring Ross.
The statue, funded by Olay and designed by StudioEIS, is intended to memorialize Ross and inspire others to pursue their futures in STEM.
Ross came from a family of pioneers who passed away in 2008 at 99.
According to the ‘Smithsonian,’ John Ross, her great-great-grandfather, the most senior chief of the Cherokee Nation, fought to protect the nation against the arrival of white settlers.
Mary Golda Ross studied mathematics at Northeastern State Teachers College in Cherokee Nation’s capital as she grew up. She later worked at the Bureau of Indian Affairs and a residential school for Native Americans.
According to Harper’s Bazaar, Mary was hired at the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation during World War II, becoming a “key military facility.”
Ross has worked on preliminary design concepts for interplanetary space travel, manned, unmanned spaceflight in Earth orbit, and early studies of orbiting satellites for military and civilian purposes.
She is also a co-author of Planetary Flight Handbook Vol III, which deals with voyages towards Venus and Mars.
During her retirement, Ross was passionate about promoting other young Native American women to enter the STEM world. She was a member of the Society of Women Engineers, which put together a scholarship on behalf of Ross.
Ross’s new statue can be visited from February 23 at the ‘First Americans Museum in Oklahoma City, the mathematician’s home state, and honor her legacy.