Is it really necessary to bring the gender component into this?
She is a brilliant person who was instrumental in our space program. Isn't that enough?
There, fixed that for you.
Seriously, as human beings, the people we look up to and emulate, the people who inspire us, are people with whom we identify in some way. The details are what allow us to identify with them.
The particular person in this story is more readily inspirational to women, and to blacks, because they can identify with those facets of her identity.
There are other details of her life that would add additional groups that could identify with her, people from her town, people who went to her school, people who share her hobbies, etc.
If I reduce all people who do remarkable things to just 'persons' they are all amazing, but I can not identify with or emulate them, that requires details, handles for my emotions to grab on to.
Currently I am looking for remarkable things done by mid 40s out of shape men, because I can identify with that. That means I can do great things too.
On a tangent this is also why biographies are crucial reading. History is only history until you can identify with the individuals who made it.
So in this case, you aren't black, or a woman, so it doesn't apply? Maybe you need to take 20 minutes and see if there is something you have in common with this person.
(wiki......) Damn this woman was the bomb! She did a bunch of inspirational and important stuff before she went to work at NASA. Went to college to be a teacher, went back to grad school to desegregate it, spent 15+ years teaching, all before deciding to be a mathematician.
Not really a lot for me to identify with, wikipedia doesn't have enough details. She lost her first husband to brain cancer, there is another detail that means something to a specific group of people. She sang in the church choir, that is something to some people. She had three daughters. I have a daughter. There are definitely things that she and I share in the parenting of daughters.
Wow, raising three daughters with energy left to accomplish things. I identify with that.
So is it really necessary to bring race or gender into this? Yes, it really is. Without them she is an achiever, with them she is a role model.