In the early 1960s she became proficient in computer programming, teaching herself FORTRAN and teaching it to her coworkers to prepare them for the transition to mechanical computers. Vaughan advocated for opportunities for the women in West Computing as well as women in other departments.
In a 1994 interview, Vaughan recalled that working at Langley during the Space Race felt like being on “the cutting edge of something very exciting.”
Vaughan is one of the women featured in Margot Lee Shetterly’s 2016 non-fiction book Hidden Figures, and the feature film of the same name, which recounts the stories of Vaughan (played by Octavia Spencer), Katherine Johnson, and Mary Jackson.
One of the most exemplary actions of Dorothy Vaughan was being proactive in finding job security for herself and the members of her team. She was very conscientious in sharing the knowledge that she acquired so that others could also succeed. This type of unselfishness is a great example to all students to find ways to lift each other up and look out for those who may be struggling.