“On this International Day, I urge commitment to end bias, greater investments in science, technology, engineering and math education for all women and girls as well as opportunities for their careers and longer-term professional advancement so that all can benefit from their ground-breaking future contributions.” — UN Secretary-General, António Guterres
This past Saturday was the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. What better way to celebrate than to highlight some amazing women in the STEM fields. I am honored to count many women in the sciences as some of my closest friends and favorite people, and seeing as how it was a podcast about women in the STEM fields that got me into these #WCW posts in the first place, it’s only fitting to have a special edition. Enjoy!
Dr. Mildred Dresselhaus
“Millie” Dresselhaus was the first woman to win the US National Medal of Science in Engineering. She was also the first female Institute Professor and professor emerita of physics and electrical engineering at MIT. The “queen of carbon science”, Millie was best known for her work on the electronic properties of materials (notably: graphite and carbon nanotubes), and for her constant work in expanding opportunities for women in STEM fields.
Dr. Nelly Mugo
Nelly Mugo is an obstetrician, gynecologist and a principal research scientist at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), Nairobi who is making fantastic strides in the effort to eradicate HIV. Dr. Mugo was instrumental in the development of PrEP, a once a day tablet that has initially shown to prevent the spread of HIV by up to 92% in high-risk population.
Dr. Rosalind Franklin
Using her expertise in X-ray diffraction techniques, Rosalind Franklin was instrumental in the discovery of the DNA’s double-helix structure. If you want to learn and be frustrated by the politics of Science, look no further than the history of DNA discovery. Scientists from Cambridge were able to get access to Franklin’s data without her consent (with the help of a rival/colleague at King’s College), and were able to use the information to further their own studies. They were eventually awarded the Nobel Prize, and the critical involvement of Rosalind’s research to the field were not uncovered until years after her death.
Dr. Grace Murray Hopper
Grace Murray Hopper was essentially a genius mathematician and computer scientist and the reason you’re reading this from a computer screen right now. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Grace had to get an exemption in order to enlist in the Navy because of her diminutive size. She served on the Mark I, Mark II, and Mark III computer programming staffs. She later invented the first compiler for computer language, which in turn led to the first high-leveling programming language COBOL. Hopper retired as a rear admiral when she was 79 years old. She was the oldest serving officer in the U.S. Armed Forces. Her awards and accolades are seriously incredibly, and she took pride in being able to break down extremely complex ideas and theories in a way that other people would be able to understand. Fun fact: Yale has recently announced that it will be changing the name of Calhoun College, named after popular white supremacist, to honor “Amazing Grace” Hopper instead, supreme baddass.