2024 Spotlight: Women Leading the Way in STEM

There is a constant, necessary push to ensure the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) workforce has diverse representation across gender, socioeconomic status, and race. This diversity in the workforce is what allows this workforce to continue thinking innovatively and in the best interest of the public as a whole. One key component of having a diverse STEM workforce is through shrinking (and removing) the gender gap seen in STEM at the collegiate and professional levels. 

The STEM gender gap can be combated through access to quality STEM education. Alongside this access, it is extremely important and impactful for young girls and female students to have successful STEM role models to look up to and use as mentors throughout their STEM journey. In this article, we will highlight seven accomplished, impactful women in STEM who can be shared with girls who are interested in pursuing STEM degrees and careers. 

Dr. Jennifer Doudna

Dr. Jennifer Doudna is a biochemist with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Pomona College and a PhD in Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology from Harvard University. Throughout her career, she has focused her studies on RNA machines, hepatitis C virus, CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing, RNA interference, ribosomes, x-ray crystallography, and cryo-electron microscopy. Outside of her research, she is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, where she shares her passion for research with students and is a key role model for female students in science. 

Dr. Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski

Dr. Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski is an accomplished theoretical physicist with degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. She recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science, where she focused on infinite dimensional symmetry, observable memory effects in gravity, and other groundbreaking areas of the theoretical physics field. She is now a professor at the Perimeter Institute while continuing her passion for exploring new, uncharted areas in STEM.

Dr. Carolyn R. Bertozzi

Dr. Carolyn R. Bertozzi is a chemist who was the recipient of the 2022 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, commonly known as the Nobel Laureate. She is known for her impactful contributions in both chemistry and biology, where much of her career has been focused on cell surface sugars that are key to human health and disease. She has degrees from Harvard University and the University of California, Berkeley, with post-doctoral studies at the University of California, San Francisco. She now uses her unique skill set to educate young chemists at Stanford University, while still focusing on her independent research. 

Dr. Fei-Fei Li

Dr. Fei-Fei Li is a well-known computer scientist with degrees from Princeton University and California Institute of Technology. She is most commonly known for the creation of ImageNet, a dataset that changed the way computer scientists approached computer vision and deep learning research. Dr. Fei-Fei Li is now a Stanford University professor, although she will be on partial leave from the university until late 2025. According to Stanford, her research interests include, “cognitively inspired AI, machine learning, deep learning, computer vision, robotic learning, and AI+healthcare, especially ambient intelligent systems for healthcare delivery.” 

Dr. Fei-Fei Li is an impactful woman in STEM, who is a role model for women of color and non-American-born students looking to join the STEM workforce and make a difference. 

Dr. Danielle Wood

Dr.Danielle Wood is known for her career success in space policy. Dr. Wood has her degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has spent time working at NASA. She is now a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she is a Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and an Assistant Professor of Media Arts and Sciences. On top of her prominent role as a professor, Dr. Wood is also the Faculty Lead for African and African Diaspora Studies. She is a powerful role model for women of color looking to join the STEM workforce. 

Dr. Maryna Viazovska

Dr. Maryna Viazovska is a Ukrainian mathematician who is known for her groundbreaking work in sphere packing. She has won a variety of awards in her career. Most recently, Dr. Viazovska was the recipient of the 2022 Field Medal. Aside from her obvious successes in STEM, she is known for her resilience and ability to overcome difficulties and challenges. An article published by Quanta Magazine talks about Dr. Viazovska’s ability to cope and overcome the difficulties of war through the use of STEM; specifically mathematics. 

Katalin Karikó

Katalin Karikó is a Hungarian-American biochemist with a degree from the University of Szeged. She is often known for her work in ribonucleic acid (RNA) therapeutics, for which she was awarded a Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine. Aside from her successful research and studies, Karikó founded a small company RNARx. She is an influential woman in STEM that shows how being entrepreneurial in the STEM workforce can lead to new, unchartered territory.

The Future of Women in STEM

Having women’s representation in STEM is key to the future success of the workforce and society. This starts in the classroom with educators providing girls with a safe, effective STEM environment where they feel comfortable taking risks and trying new things. If you are an educator looking for ways to create an inclusive STEM environment for girls, click here to learn eight effective tactics. 

A Call to Inspire

At STEM Sports®, we believe that shrinking the gender gap in the STEM workforce begins in the classroom. Educators play a vital role in student learning and future success. In the STEM Softball capstone for grade 6-8 students, we identify groundbreaking women in STEM and Sports. This wrap-up to their STEM lesson introduces students to women as STEM role models who are key examples of why STEM literacy is important and can lead to successful careers. 

If you are interested in implementing a turnkey STEM curriculum with your K-8 students to help diversify the STEM workforce, click here to explore our current offerings. 

Do you wish to stay up-to-date with STEM Sports®?

Sign up below to receive the latest information on our STEM education, curriculum and available resources.