Recognizing Amazing Women on International Day of Women and Girls in Science

In honour of Black History Month and the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we’ve compiled a list of Black women doing amazing work in STEM fields. Take a look!

  1. Genetic virologist Sheila Ochugboju Kaka is a science communicator and international development expert, passionate about using the intersection of art and science to promote innovation and social change. Check her out on Twitter @SheilaAfrica!
  2. Geographer and oceanographer Dawn Wright is a leading expert in the application of geographic information system technology to the field of ocean and coastal science. Wright was also the first African-American woman to dive to the ocean floor in ALVIN, a deep-water submarine!
  3. Bessie Coleman (January 26, 1892 – April 30, 1926) was the first African-American woman, and the first woman of Native American descent, to hold a pilot’s license. As she did not have access to flight school opportunities in the United States, Coleman studied in France instead, receiving her international pilot’s license in 1921.
  4. Vivian Pinn is an American physician, scientist, and pathologist, known for her passion for women’s health issues and concerns. She has been a vocal advocate for the inclusion of female patients in federally funded medical studies, and encourages women to follow careers in STEM and medicine.
  5. If you’ve seen Hidden Figures, you’ve heard of Katherine Goble Johnson, an African-American physicist and mathematician who worked for NASA for decades. Known for her accuracy in computerized celestial navigation, Johnson’s work was critical to the success of numerous missions, including many Project Mercury flights and the Apollo 11 flight to the moon. Check out this interview with the author of the Hidden Figures novel to learn more!
  6. Aerospace engineer Aprille Ericsson-Jackson was the first Black woman to earn a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Howard University, after earning a Bachelor of Science in aeronautical/astronautical engineering from MIT. She was also the first Black woman to receive a Ph.D. in engineering at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre. Talk about #blackexcellence!
  7. On June 4, 1987, Mae C. Jemison became the first African-American woman to be admitted into the astronaut training program. Five years later, Jemison flew into space with six other astronauts aboard the Endeavour on mission STS47, becoming the first African-American woman in space!
  8. When Alexa Canady was in college, a summer program inspired her to pursue a medical career. In 1981, she became the first female African-American neurosurgeon in the United States! Canady specialized as a pediatric neurosurgeon and served as chief of neurosurgery at the Children’s Hospital in Michigan from 1987 to 2001.
  9. Ophthalmologist and inventor Patricia Bath is the first female African-American doctor to receive a patent for a medical purpose – and she has four of them! Her first patent was for the Laserphaco Probe, an invention which improved treatment for patients with cataracts. Bath also founded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness in Washington, D.C.
  10. Astrophysicist Jedidah Isler studies supermassive, hyperactive black holes. These black holes eat up tons of material, and then shoot it out through jets that move at 99.99% the speed of light. Check out her interview on the TED Fellows blog.

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