We all know the fantastic adventures that led to world-changing innovations. However, we often forget the women in STEM who changed our world.
In occasion of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, which is celebrated every year on February 11th, we have dedicated this post to the amazing women in STEM who changed our world. We have told their story, and we have also made a list of movies that will inspire you.
We hope it will be another step forward in closing the gender gap by showing everyone how much women in STEM have played a crucial role in the way we live. To girls and women who are reading this post: the sky is the limit for you.
4 Women in STEM who Changed our World
Marie Curie (1867- 1934)
Physicist and chemist
She is one of the most famous scientists in the world, and her story represents the challenges women have faced to become respected in a male-predominant world. Born in Poland in 1867, she studied at Sorbonne University in Paris, where she met her husband Pierre Curie. The two worked together for the sake of human development. They discovered two new elements, polonium and radium. For this, they were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903. She then received a second Nobel Prize, in Chemistry, in 1911 and played a crucial role in the development of X-rays in surgery. During World War One, Curie herself drove ambulances to the front lines. Despite her undeniable contribution to science, she faced opposition from male scientists and never received significant financial benefits from her work.
Hedy Lamarr (1914-2000)
The Inventor of WiFi
Hedy Lamarr was the mind behind WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth, as told in the documentary on her life called ‘Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story.’ Despite her exceptional mind, she was most famous for her career as an actress. The US Navy used her invention during the Second World War, but it then suggested to Ms. Lamarr to contribute to war efforts to cheer the spirit of soldiers as a pin-up rather than as an inventor. She didn’t get the recognition she deserved during her life. Nevertheless, things would be very different for billions of people if she had never been an inventor. Hedy Lamarr once said “The brains of people are more interesting than the looks I think”, and we couldn’t agree more.
Wangari Maathai (1940-2011)
Social, environmental, and political activist
Wangari Maathai fought all her life against stereotypes on gender roles. She was the first woman in East or Central Africa to earn a doctorate. Dr. Maathai was particularly interested in the intersectionality between women’s rights, human rights, and environmental rights. She envisioned a future in which people, particularly women, could be the main actors to fight climate change. For this goal, she founded the pioneering Green Belt Movement in 1977, which encourages women to plant trees to combat environmental degradation. As reported by UNESCO, the Green Belt Movement has planted over 50 million trees. In 2004, she was the first African woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize as a reward for her lifetime work in defense of the planet and women’s rights.
Tiera Guinn (1995-present)
Tiera Guinn is among the most brilliant engineers on the planet. She studied at MIT, and even before graduating in aeronautics and astronautics, she was already working at BOEING and NASA. In 2016, she started working at the Space Launch Systems program, the most powerful rocket ever made, with the capacity to go into the deeper part of space. Ms. Guinn learned at a young age the power of believing in herself. As she said in a fascinating interview for Glassdoor: “I realized that I had to believe in myself and open my own doors before anyone could open a door for or believe in me.” Even though we are living in 2020, Tiera Guinn still represents a minority in the STEM world. She is the youngest person and the only woman working in the engine team at the Space Launch System program.
In case you are thirsty for knowledge, you can discover more about women in STEM who have shaped the world. In the next section, we have made a list of some of our favorite movies on the topic.
Movies to Watch on Women in STEM
The movie tells the story of Katherine Goble Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, three African American STEM geniuses who worked at NASA during the Space Race. However, it was not easy to work in segregated America and, despite their skills, they were being constantly discriminated against for being black and women. Nevertheless, they never gave up. With perseverance, wit, and irony, Johnson, Vaughan, and Jackson showed what women could accomplish if they were only given a chance. Hidden Figures has inspired extraordinary women like Tiera Guinn to pursue a career in STEM.
The documentary shows a different approach to the tech world to reduce the gender gap in STEM. Code Girl follows the story of young women who are competing in Technovation, a mobile app contest. To win the final prize of $10K, young girls from all over the world will have to fix problems affecting their communities like violence or waste management through apps. It is stimulating to see them mastering coding skills and apply them to create a positive impact in their communities. Moreover, the hidden purpose of Code Girl is to inspire everyone to code. They even offer free coding lessons for girls and boys on their website.
The character of Shuri is already a source of inspiration for the next generation of women in STEM. Shuri is the young mastermind behind the technological evolution of the utopic world of Wakanda. As noted by Madeline Buxton in this article, what impresses most of Shuri, is her intelligence and confidence in her skills. She leads the scene while she shows her latest inventions and how they work.
Happy International Day of Women and Girls in Science!
History is full of extraordinary women who contributed to the advancement of technology as we know it. In this post, we have recollected the stories of Women in STEM who changed our world, but there are remarkable women in every sector of society.
If you are looking for more inspiration, you should read or listen to Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. It is very refreshing to discover the real stories of mathematicians, aviators, journalists, and so on, who changed the world with their brains and stubbornness to not be defined by gender expectations.
Which woman has inspired you that we have not mentioned in “Women in STEM who Changed our World”?
We are looking forward to your answers in the comment section.