In honor of Women’s International Month, we would like to spotlight some amazing women scientists who have made significant contributions to STEM and our world.
Historically, women in STEM are often overlooked, undervalued, and even discouraged from pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. But today, women in STEM are breaking barriers, shattering glass ceilings, and achieving incredible accomplishments that are changing the world.
From molecular biology to nuclear physics, women scientists are making significant contributions to our understanding of the universe, and it's about time we celebrate their achievements.
Dr. Fei-Fei Li – Computer Science
Dr. Fei-Fei Li is a computer scientist and artificial intelligence (AI) expert known for her work on image recognition and machine learning.
Dr. Li is perhaps best known for her work on ImageNet, a large-scale image database that has become a benchmark for object recognition algorithms.
Her team's research on deep learning algorithms significantly improved the accuracy of image recognition tasks. It led to breakthroughs in various applications, from self-driving cars to medical imaging.
She is also the founder of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and the co-director of the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence.
Li's work earned her numerous awards, including the prestigious ACM Prize in Computing in 2019.
Dr. Patricia Bath – MedTech
Dr. Patricia Bath is an ophthalmologist who invented the Laserphaco Probe, a medical device used to treat cataracts.
This invention significantly improved the accuracy and safety of cataract surgery, especially in patients with darker skin tones.
It also revolutionized the treatment of cataracts and has restored vision to millions of people around the world.
Dr. Bath was a strong advocate for improving healthcare for underserved communities and actively promoted telemedicine and other innovative technologies to increase access to medical care.
She was also a trailblazer in academia, becoming the first African American woman to complete a residency in ophthalmology and the first woman to chair an ophthalmology residency program in the United States.
Dr. Vera Rubin - Astrophysics
Dr. Vera Rubin was an American astronomer who discovered evidence of dark matter.
Her work challenged traditional assumptions about the universe's structure and has profoundly impacted our understanding of cosmology.
In the 1960s, Rubin and her colleague Kent Ford studied the rotation of galaxies and discovered that stars at the edge of a galaxy were moving just as fast as stars in the middle.
This discovery was puzzling because it meant there was more mass in the galaxy than we could see. Rubin proposed that something invisible (dark matter) held the galaxy together.
Dr. Rubin was also a strong advocate for women in science and was actively involved in promoting gender equity in the field of astronomy.
Dr. Jennifer Doudna - Biochemistry
Dr. Jennifer Doudna is a biochemist and molecular biologist who made groundbreaking contributions to the field of gene editing.
She co-invented the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing tool, a revolutionary technique for modifying DNA sequences with high precision and accuracy.
This breakthrough has transformed the field of genetics and has the potential to revolutionize medicine by enabling the correction of genetic disorders.
This technology has the potential to cure genetic diseases, eradicate pests and diseases that affect crops, and even bring extinct species back to life. Doudna's work earned her numerous awards, including the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2020.
Chien-Shiung Wu - Nuclear Physics
Chien-Shiung Wu was a Chinese-American physicist who made significant contributions to the field of nuclear physics.
Wu's most notable scientific achievement was her work on the law of conservation of parity, a fundamental principle in physics at the time.
In 1956, Wu conducted a series of experiments demonstrating that the law of conservation of parity did not hold in weak interactions, which was a major breakthrough in nuclear physics.
This work had significant implications for our understanding of the universe, and it earned Wu numerous awards and accolades, including the inaugural Wolf Prize in Physics in 1978.
Making Space for More women in stem
In addition to these individual achievements, significant strides have been made in increasing women's participation in STEM fields. In the United States, for example, women have made considerable progress in earning degrees in STEM fields in recent years.
According to the National Science Foundation, the percentage of bachelor's degrees earned by women in STEM fields increased from just over 20% in the early 1980s to over 40% in 2018.
Despite these advances, much work must be done to ensure that women have equal opportunities and are fully represented in STEM fields. Women in STEM continue to face significant barriers, including discrimination, harassment, and a lack of role models.
To address these issues, it is crucial to invest in programs that support and encourage girls and women to pursue careers in STEM, such as STEM education initiatives, mentorship programs, and initiatives that promote diversity and inclusion.