(BLACK History Month) These trailblazers paved the way for a new generation of women and girls in science.
Black women have contributed greatly to STEM, despite being grossly underrepresented in the field. According to a 2017 report from the National Science Foundation, Black women and men hold less than 5 percent of managerial positions within STEM.
In 2016, Black women made up only 2.9 percent of students earning bachelor degrees in STEM, but thanks to films like Hidden Figures — which illuminated stories of pioneers like Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson — and heightened attention on STEM careers, the conversation surrounding women in science continues to gro
In honor of Black History Month, and the International Day of Women in Science, check out seven trailblazers who paved the way for a new generation of women and girls in science, technology, engineering and math.
Dr. Patricia Bath
A noted physician, inventor, and graduate from Howard University College of Medicine, Patricia Bath became the first black doctor to land a medical patent, which she received in 1988, for the laserphaco probe, a devise used to treat cataract patients. Bath also became the first Black person to complete an ophthalmology residency in the U.S., and later became the first woman to chair an ophthalmologist program, and the first female ophthalmologist to be appointed to faculty at UCLA’s Jules Stein Eye Institute.
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Happy #nationaldoctorsday 👩🏽⚕️ An excellent occasion to honor Dr. May Edward Chinn 🔬 Dr. May Edward Chinn spent her career researching cancer, helping to develop the Pap smear and advocating for early detection of cancer. May was the first African-American woman to graduate from Bellevue Hospital Medical College, one of the first female African-American physicians in New York City, and the first African-American woman to intern at Harlem Hospital. 🔬 May's father escaped slavery when he was just 11 years old and her mother was a Native American who emphasized the importance of education. Although May originally wanted to be a musician, she found a calling from a professor at Columbia Teachers College. During her senior year, May worked as a lab technician in clinical pathology and completed her courses at night. 🔬 May was the first woman to ride along with the paramedics on ambulance calls while she was interning at Harlem Hospital. After May graduated, she found it hard to get privileges at hospitals and instead started her own family practice. She treated people who otherwise wouldn't receive medical help, and would often go into dangerous neighborhoods to provide care. In 1933, May received her master's degree in Public Health from Columbia University to continue working to improve the health conditions of her patients in Harlem. 🏥🔬 #womeninstem #womenintech #womeninscience #engineering #science #woc #wocinstem #wocintech #womenempowerment #feminism #feminist #steminist #steminism #quote #quotes #harlem #medicine #blackwomeninstem #nativeamerican #nativewomen #inspiration #activism #womeninmedicine #wocinmedicine
Dr. May Edward Chinn
Bon in Great Barrington, Mass., in 1896, Dr. May Edward Chinn went on to become the first Black woman to graduate from New York’s Bellevue Hospital Medical College. She was also the first black woman to intern at Harlem Hospital, and the first woman allowed to ride in the hospital’s ambulance during an emergency calls.
Dr. Marie Maynard Daly
Pioneering biochemist Dr. Marie Maynard Daly became the first Black woman in the U.S. to earn a Ph.D in chemistry. A native of Queens, Daly credited her mother with cultivating her love for science and her fascination with the inner workings of the human body. She graduated with honors from Queens College in 1942, and went on to earn a graduate degree from NYU, along with master’s and doctorate degrees from Columbia University.
A valiant researcher, Daly landed a grant from the American Cancer Society in 1948, which led to a seven-year study on how the body constructs proteins. In the mid-1950s, Daly returned to Columbia where she studied the cause of heart attacks, and subsequently outlined the connection between diet and heart health. Daly also taught biochemistry, encouraged minority students to pursue higher education in STEM fields, and founded her own scholarship at Queens College in 1988
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Out of this world 🌎💥 Dr. Patricia S. Cowings was the first African American woman scientist to be trained as an astronaut by NASA and was an alternate for a 1979 space flight. Although she never got to travel, Cowings paved the way for Sally Ride, Mae Jemison, and a number of other women who ventured to outer space. She is known for her studies in the physiology of astronauts and her work in helping to find cures for astronaut’s motion sickness.
Dr. Patricia S. Cowings
Aeropace psychophysiologist and inventor, Dr. Patricia S. Cowings, has spent years studying the physiological effects that being in space has on the human body, and intern helped numerous astronauts adapt to space. A native of the Bronx and graduate of UC Davis, Cowings is the first woman to be trained as a NASA scientist astronaut and in 1997, she invented the Autogenic-Feedback Training systems and methods, which can be used to help humans voluntarily control 24 bodily reactions including breathing, heart rate and sweating.
Cowings currently works as a researcher at NASA’s Ames Research Center in the Human Systems Integration Division, and is the lead investigator of the Psychophysiological Research Lab.
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Dr. Latanya Sweeney (1959/1960- ) is currently a Professor of Government and Technology in Residence at Harvard University, the Director of the Data Privacy Lab at Harvard, and the Faculty Dean in Harvard’s Currier House. She used to work for the Federal Trade Commission as the Chief Technologist for all of 2014. She is best known for her theory of k-anonymity, and is credited with saying “87% of the U.S. population is uniquely identified by date of birth, gender, and postal code.” She focused more of her academic career on computer science and electrical engineering, earning her Bachelor’s at Harvard, and her Master’s and her Ph.D. from MIT. She excelled in all of her classes, earning a 4.0 while in pursuit of her Master’s. She even was the first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. in computer science from MIT. Sweeney works on technology that solves societal problems and goes on to teach others how to use the technology. She has worked on projects ranging from privacy of our genetic code, to discrimination in the type of ads shown to a person, to identification of people from public census data. All the work and research she has put into her career is astounding and showcases how our work can make a difference within the community. #WomensHistoryMonth
Dr. Latanya Sweeney
An award-winning computer scientist and Professor of Government and Technology in Residence at Harvard University, Dr. Latanya Sweeney is best known for co-introducing the theory of k-anonymity. According to her website, Sweeny’s mission is to “create and use technology to assess and solve societal, political and governance problems.”
In 2001, Sweeney became the first Black woman to earn a PhD in computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.