Science, Now + Beyond

8 female scientists of color we should know about

Because science is more than just Einstein or Marie Curie

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Whenever we talk of people in Science, the first few names that we think of are Albert Einstein, Newton, or Edison.

When it comes to women, let’s be honest we struggle to come up with more than one name. In schools, we are mostly told about the great men of science but not about women, especially women of color. This is why it is time to recognize female scientists of color who have had great contributions in various fields of Science and Mathematics.

In schools, we are mostly told about the great men of science but not about women, especially women of color. Click To Tweet

1. E. K. Janaki Ammal

Dr. E.K Janaki Ammal
Black and White image of Dr. E.K Janaki Ammal Via ksc.kerala.gov.in

In a predominantly patriarchal society where it was hard for girls to make it past middle-school in India, Janaki Ammal decided to pursue Botany and later became a researcher in Cytogenetics and Phytogeography. She is best known for her work involving sugarcanes and the eggplant.

For her brilliant contributions to Science in India, she was also honored with Padma Shri (one of the highest civilian honors in India) in 1977. She is also one of the few Asian women to be granted an honorary doctorate by the University of Michigan, her alma mater.

In a predominantly patriarchal society where it was hard for girls to make it past middle-school in India, Janaki Ammal became a researcher in Cytogenetics and Phytogeography. Click To Tweet

2. Mary Jackson

Black and White image of Mary Jackson Via nasa.gov

At a time where racial segregation was taking place in full force in various societies, Mary Jackson emerged as a mathematician and scientist whose unparalleled skills and expertise led her to become NASA’s first African-American female engineer and also help in America’s win at the “Space Race”.

She used her accomplishments and her position to continue to champion women, especially women of color into joining the STEM fields within NASA by working as both the Federal Women’s Program Manager in the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs and as the Affirmative Action Program Manager.

Mary Jackson emerged as a mathematician and scientist whose unparalleled skills and expertise led her to become NASA’s first African-American female engineer. Click To Tweet

3. Sunita Willaims

Sunita L. Williams via nasa.gov

Sunita L. Williams is an Indian-American who set great records in her time at the International Space Station (ISS).

With an M.S. in Engineering Management, she was also trained at helicopter combat and flew helicopter support squadrons during the Persian Gulf War. She flew to the ISS in 2006 where she made a record of totaling 29 hours outside the spacecraft while making spacewalks and spending 195 days in space, which was huge for women in space at that time. Subsequently, she has received many honors and awards in her time.

Sunita L. Williams is an Indian-American who set great records in her time at the International Space Station (ISS). Click To Tweet

4. Mae Jemison

Mae C. Jemison Via Space.com

Mae C. Jemison, with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering and an M.D., became the first African-American female astronaut at NASA, also earning the title of Space Mission Specialist where she was given the responsibility of conducting scientific experiments on the crew related to weightlessness and motion sickness.

She has also been honored with various accolades and honorary doctorates.

Mae C. Jemison, with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering and an M.D., became the first African-American female astronaut at NASA. Click To Tweet

5. Flossie Wong-Staal

Flossie Wong-Staal Via Tumblr.com

With a BS in Bacteriology and PhD in Molecular Biology, Flossie Wong-Staal is a Chinese-American Virologist, who became the first scientist to clone HIV and determine how it’s genes work, marking a huge step in proving that HIV causes AIDS. In 2007, Dr. Wong-Staal was ranked 32 on The Daily Telegraph’s “Top 100 Living Geniuses”.

Flossie Wong-Staal is a Chinese-American Virologist, who became the first scientist to clone HIV and determine how it’s genes work. Click To Tweet

6. Ruby Hirose

Black and white image of Ruby Hirose Via Wikipedia.com

Dr. Ruby Hirose was a Japanese-American Biochemist and Bacteriologist whose research lead to the development of vaccines for polio and hay fever.

It was because of her achievements in Chemistry, she was one of the few women who was recognized by the American Chemical Society. She later also contributed towards developing vaccines against infantile paralysis.

Dr. Ruby Hirose was a Japanese-American Biochemist and Bacteriologist whose research lead to the development of vaccines for polio and hay fever. Click To Tweet

7. Mayly Sánchez

Mayly Sánchez Via Wikipedia.com

Mayly Sánchez is a Particle Physicist born in Venezuela who was bestowed with the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honour given to Scientists. She is known for her experimental work with work in the field of experimental long baseline neutrino physics.

She is currently an assistant professor of Physics and Astronomy at Iowa State.

Mayly Sánchez is a Particle Physicist born in Venezuela who was bestowed with the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. Click To Tweet

8. Maryam Mirzakhani

Maryam Mirzakhani via Tumblr.com

Maryam Mirzakhani was an exceptional Iranian Mathematician, her contributions to the geometry and dynamics of Riemann Surfaces and their moduli spaces also led her to become the first Iranian to win the Fields Medal (International Medal for Outstanding Discoveries in Mathematics), which is considered as the Mathematical equivalent of Nobel prize but is rather granted to scholars under the age of 40.

Maryam Mirzakhanis contributions to the geometry and dynamics of Riemann Surfaces and their moduli spaces also led her to become the first Iranian to win the Fields Medal. Click To Tweet

These are just some of the brilliant women who have dominated in their careers, I cannot wait to learn about the badass women to come.

Apurva Gupta

Apurva Gupta

Third-year student at Amity University, India, majoring with an Honours in Applied Psychology with her keen interest being in Music which majorly consists of BTS, Art, Food, Film, & Television. Loves teaming up with people to work on projects and working on creative and novel ideas. Values the importance of social justice, gender equality & social media.

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