Afro-American Women Discrimination on Hidden Figures : A Critical Discourse Analysis

Listiana Ikawati


This study investigates the discrimination against three Afro-American women in Hidden Figures. Critical Discourse Analysis proposed by Fairclough (2012) was used in this study to deconstruct the discrimination and provide solutions to tackle the problem. The CDA was supported by the analysis on language through Systemic Functional Grammar by Halliday (2004) and the analysis on body language by Jäger and Maier (2009). The result shows that the discrimination in the movie can be differentiated into discrimination based on the level and the cause. The discrimination based on the level includes the individual, institutional and structural discrimination. Based on the cause, discrimination based on race (racism) and discrimination based on gender (sexism) are illustrated in the movie. The racism is developed from racist ideology, while the sexism is caused by sexist ideology. Finally, the ideologies are represented through language and body language.

Keywords: Afro-American Women, Discrimination, Critical Discourse Analysis, Systemic Functional Grammar

Full Text:



Ahern, Sarah. (2017, November 30). Direc-tor Theodore Melfie on Why He Dropped ‘Spider-Man’ to Board ‘Hidden Figures’. Variety. Re-trieved from

Akogbeto, Patrice C. and Koukpossi, Al-bert O. (2015). Gender Issues in the Lion and the Jewel by Wole Soyin-ka: A Linguistics-Oriented Analysis from a Systemic Functional Gram-mar and Critical Discourse Analysis Perspective. Communication and Linguistics Studies, 1(2), 16-34.

Bodenhausen, Galen V. and Richeson, Jennifer, A. (2010). Prejudice, Ste-reotyping and Discrimination. Baumeister, Roy F. and Finkel, Eli J (Eds.), Advanced Social Psychol-ogy: The State of the Science. (pp. 341-383). Oxford: Oxford Univer-sity Press.

Catalyst. (2004). Advancing African-American Women in the Workplace: What Managers Need to Know. New York: Catalyst Publica-tion.Eggins, Suzanne. (2004). An Introduction to Systemic Functional Linguistics. London: Continuum In-ternational Publishing Group.

Collins, Patricia Hill. (2001). What’s in a Name? Womanism. Black Femi-nism, and Beyond. The Black Scholar, 26 (1), 9-17.

DuMonthier, Asha, Childers, Chandra, and Milli, Jessica. (2017). The Status of Black Women in the United States. Washington: Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Retrieved from

Erbland, Kate. (2017, August 10). How ‘Hidden Figures’ Is Continuing to Inspire the Next Generation of Fe-male Leaders. IndieWire. Retrieved from

Fairclough, Norman. (2012). Critical Dis-course Analysis. Online article, Re-trieved October 3rd, 2017, from

Fershtman, Chaim, Gneezy, Uri, and Ver-boven, Frank. (2005). Discrimina-tion and Nepotism: The Efficiency of the Anonymity Rule. Journal of Legal Studies, 34, 371-394.

Fernandes, Lily and Alsaeed, Nora Hadi Q. (2014). African Americans and Workplace Discrimination. Europe-an Journal of English Language and Literature Studies, 2(2), 5-76.

Frauenberger, Sandra. (2012) Ending Gen-der Stereotyping and Sexist Por-trayals in Advertising. FemCities Conference 2012, Online docu-ment, Retrieved on October 4th, 2017, from

Gerot, Linda and Wignell, Peter. (1994). Making Sense of Functional Grammar. New South Wales: An-tipodean Educational Enterprises.

Halliday, M.A.K. (2004). An Introduction to Functional Grammar: Third Edi-tion. New York: Oxford University Press.

Jäger, Siegfired and Maier, Florentine. (2009). Theoritical and Methodo-logical Aspects of Foucauldian Critical Discourse Analysis and Dispositive Analysis. Ruth Wodak and Michael Meyer, (Eds.), Meth-ods of Critical Discourse Analysis: Second Edition. (pp. 34-61). Lon-don: SAGE.Lamsal, Mukunda. (2012). The Structuration Ap-proach of Anthony Giddens. Himalayan Journal of Sociology & Anthropology, 5, 111-122.

Kilkenny, Katie. (2017, January 17). Why Theodore Melfi Chose to Make ‘Hidden Figures’ over ‘Spider-man’. The Pacific Standard. Re-trieved from

Lawrence, Keith and Keleher, Terry. (2004). Structural Racism. Online document, Retrieved on October 15th, 2017, from

Lessu, Deasy Natalia.2017. The Ideologies of Anti-Authoritarianism and Social Movement in Anti-Flag’s Protest Song Lyrics: A Critical Discourse Analysis. Yogyakarta: Sanata Dharma University.Marshall, Thur-good. (2005). Segregation is Moral-ly Wrong. Karson, Jill. eds. The Civil Rights Movement. (pp. 74-85). Maine: Thomson Gale.

Pincus, Fred.L. (2000). Discrimination Comes in Many Forms: Individual, Institutional, and Structural. Online article, Retrieved on October 12th, 2017, from

Rospenda, K.M., Richman, J.A., and Shannon, C.A. (2009). Prevalence and Mental Health Correlates of Harassment and Discrimination in the Workplace: Results from a Na-tional Study. Journal of Impersonal Violence, 24(5), 9-43.

Sarrasin, Oriane, Gabriel, Ute, and Gygax, Pascal. (2012). Sexism Attitudes towards Gender-Neutral Language: The Case of English, French and German. The Swiss Journal of Psy-chology, pp.1-37.

Tenorio, Encarnation Hidalgo. (2011). Crit-ical Discourse Analysis: An Over-view. Nordic Journal of English Studies. 10(1), 183-210.

United Nations. (2001). Gender Dimen-sions of Racial Discrimination. Se-attle: PhotoDisc, Inc.

Wodak, Ruth and Meyer, Michael. (2001). Methods of Critical Discourse Analysis. London: SAGE Publica-tion Ltd.

West Virginia Department of Education. (2017). Hidden Figures: Instruc-tional Guide. Online document,. Retrieved on April 3rd, 2018, from


  • There are currently no refbacks.