Three Female Innovators Who Broke Down Barriers
The gender gap that exists within the STEM fields is a hot topic among professionals and educators. Women are no strangers to innovation and invention, and many have foundational skills and talents that would make them excellent candidates for a career in science, tech, engineering, or math.
A disparity in pay, hostile working environments, and being encouraged to pursue more “traditional” career paths for women have all been noted as reasons for the inequality, but, seeking a more diverse work force for the next generation of STEM professionals, leaders in the fields are making an effort to reach out to and inspire talented young women.
Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, which takes place this 25 February, is one such effort. It’s a global outreach campaign facilitated by educators, volunteers, and professional engineers and scientists, and it targets young women who may have interest or talent in STEM areas. Leaders help girls to participate in exciting and informative engineering-centric activities which facilitate the development of problem solving skills.
Women entering the science, tech, math, and engineering fields today join a rich history of female innovation.
In particular, these three innovators broke down remarkable barriers with their achievements, paving the way for today’s brilliant young women.
- Alice Parker: A housewife in the early 1900s, Parker was inspired by cold New Jersey winters to develop a central heating system powered by gas. Her patent predated both the Civil Rights and Women’s Liberation movements, a revolutionary achievement for an African-American woman during the era.
- Dr. Patricia Bath: In addition to being a pioneer of the use of laser surgery for treating cataracts. Dr. Bath was the first female leader of a post-grad ophthalmology program, the first African-American female surgeon at UCLA Med, and the first woman member of the Jules Stein Eye Institute.
- Judy Resnik: After receiving her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and being recruited into NASA’s Astronaut Corps at 28, Judy was a mission specialist on the Space Shuttle Discovery, where she became the first Jewish woman, second American woman, and first Jewish person in space. Judy tragically perished in the Challenger disaster of 1986.
Participation in this year’s Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day will be virtual due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. To learn more or sign up, click here.
Neve Spicer is the Chief Editor at WeTheParents.org where she seeks to bring out the humour in parenting and gets nerdy researching and reviewing the gear that mums and dads (apparently) need. You can also catch her on Facebook and Twitter.