Hidden Figures and NT-type Women

Contrary to popular belief, INTJs have emotions. They also express them, though not always to the person they’re having feelings about (for example, an INTJ might tell his best friend he likes a girl, but not tell the girl. Or an INTJ might tell her husband she hates a coworker, but never give the coworker a hint). INTJs tend to compartmentalize their feelings and process them internally, and they hate expressing deep emotions casually or to people they don’t know well.

hidden_ntIf you’re very observant, though, and get to know the INTJs in your life, you’ll start to realize there’s a remarkable depth to their feelings. They’ll even do things, like cry at movies, that are typically associated with Feeling personality types. They might scorn the things that are “supposed” to make you cry (e.g. I’m sniffling at a Pixar film and my INTJ sister laughs out loud in the theater). But then I’ll look over and notice moisture leaking from the corners of her eyes at the end of Hidden Figures (I’ve been informed it was not crying).

Hidden Figures (2016) is a fantastic film about “a team of African-American women mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the US space program. ” They were among the first African-Americans and the first women to work in such prestigious technical roles. My sister, about to graduate with a degree in Chemical Engineering, gave me one explanation for her emotional response to the film: “these women and others like them made it possible for me to be an engineer.”

As the character Mary Jackson tells a judge, someone always has to be first. These women proved it’s possible for women to be taken seriously and make important contributions as mathematicians and engineers. But I suspect my sister’s words go deeper than referring to breaking down gender stereotypes about the kind of work women can do. It also has to do with people’s expectations for what women should be like.

hidden_nt_2Only 24-35% of women have a personality type that relies on Thinking as their primary or secondary mental process (according to the Center for Applications of Psychological Type). INTJ and INTP women are tied for rarest at 1-3% of the female population. ENTJs come in a close third at 1-4%. ENTPs tie with ESTPs with 2-4%, just slightly more common than ISTPs at 2-3%. The STJ types aren’t nearly as rare, with ESTJs making up 6-8% and ISTJs 7-10% of the female population.

I’m not going to type the women in Hidden Figures, but having seen the film I think it’s safe to say Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson are Thinking types. Their minds are naturally wired to excel at processing facts, figures, and data — a hall-mark of the fact-checking, analytical Thinking functions that use “impersonal criteria to make decisions.” I’d say Katherine at least is probably an Intuitive type as well, pairing pattern-recognition and possibility-seeking with her Thinking side.

That means she wasn’t just a rarity at NASA (an African-American woman working in a highly technical position). She’s also a rarity in society (a woman using both Intuition and Thinking as her most comfortable mental processes). Thinking traits are so strongly stereotyped as masculine that NT women often don’t fit cultural expectations for femininity. One of the many things I loved about Hidden Figures is that these three women seemed to have figured out a way to balance being wives and mothers with working as groundbreakingly successful mathematicians. They’re also portrayed as real people who are admired and respected for who they are instead of as the bitchy, controlling, or cold stereotype we often get when presented with Thinking female characters (take Sandra Bullock’s character in The Proposal as an example). And the men they’re in relationships with aren’t scared of them or trying to fit them back in boxes.

It was really wonderful to see characters that embraced femininity on their own terms. While I do believe God created the two genders to be different and complementary in the roles we fill, I also think there are stereotypes in our culture that do both genders a disservice. One of those is that women are or “should” be more emotion-driven than analytically-minded. There’s room for both. And, as Hidden Figures reminds us, we would do ourselves a terrible disservice if we tried to keep these women hidden.click to read article, "Hidden Figures and NT-type Women" | marissabaker.wordpress.com

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4 thoughts on “Hidden Figures and NT-type Women

  • The quality that I admire in INTJ women is that they are more balanced than their male counterparts in the Te-Fi department. They put up a tough Te exterior in order to ward off most people from probing into their Fi, but if you have the luxury of having an INTJ confide in you, I find them warmer and more compassionate than some NFs.

    What an excellent post! I shall look forward to watching Hidden Figures. ^_^

    Liked by 1 person

    • Definitely. My INTJ sister’s like that. She’ll try to convince you she doesn’t have any of those pesky emotions, but those of us close to her know there’s an incredible depth to her feelings, compassion, and loyalty.

      Liked by 1 person

  • My INTP mom hates movies but she turned going to see “Hidden Figures” into an “event”. She saw it alone at a fancy theater that brings full meals to your seat. She was her HS valedictorian, voted Ms. Brains, graduated from an Ivy League college with a degree in Systems Engineering, worked on a top-secret project for NASA straight out of undergrad, worked as an engineer for a top electronics company, etc. She’s a black Baby Boomer. So this movie was basically made for her.

    Meanwhile, as one of her neglected “projects”, I have no interest whatsoever in seeing this film in which women are celebrated for sacrificing their creation roles to achieve professional “success”. It doesn’t matter whether women are F or T personality types. We all have wombs, vaginas, and breasts. Obviously, God made us for specific purposes…

    1 Timothy 2:11‭-‬15 NLT

    Women should learn quietly and submissively. I do not let women teach men or have authority over them. Let them listen quietly. For God made Adam first, and afterward he made Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived by Satan. The woman was deceived, and sin was the result. But women will be saved through childbearing, assuming they continue to live in faith, love, holiness, and modesty.

    https://bible.com/bible/116/1ti.2.11-15.NLT

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    • I’m so sorry that your mother neglected you to focus on projects other than motherhood 😦 It breaks my heart to see women doing that. If someone has kids they should be a first priority, even if she does have a career as well.

      One of the things that I liked best about this movie is the women in it didn’t abandon or resent their children. As I mentioned in my article, I loved that they found a way to balance their roles as wives and mothers while also using their incredible mathematical gifts. Though God gave us the “equipment” to mother children, He gives us other gifts as well and I don’t think we should neglect them either. We should try to find ways to use all our gifts to do good and glorify Him.

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