The world of rapid technological advancement that we live in today is primarily male dominated, especially in the various fields of STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math). These are the estimated percentages of women in the STEM workforce from 2017:
- 35% of chemists are women
- 11% of physicists and astronomers are women
- 33% of environmental engineers are women
- 22% of chemical engineers are women
- 17% of civil, architectural, and sanitary engineers are women
- 17% of industrial engineers are women
- 10% of electrical or computer hardware engineers are women
- 7% of mechanical engineers are women
These statistics should not be taken negatively. They do not indicate that women should stay away from a STEM career path, but instead present an amazing opportunity to influence your field (and the world) with your contributions! Gender disparity in STEM is shrinking every year as more and more women decide to follow their passions in these fields and make a difference. Allow me to show you a selection of these influential women, their stories, and how they have made an impact.
Dr. Allen is an American computer scientist and the first woman to be awarded the A.M.Turing Award–an award regarded as the computer science equivalent of the Nobel Prize. Allen also received the 2002 Augusta Ada Lovelace Award from the Association of Women in Computing.
Rometty is the current CEO of IBM. She has degrees in both computer science and electrical engineering and began her work at IBM as a systems engineer, working her way up the chain (and various positions) before moving into the world of leadership and business. She has helped focus the company’s efforts on several important projects and goals, such as cloud computing, analytics businesses, and the stunning “Watson” computer. The Watson computer is a great technological advancement in the area of Artificial Intelligence; this computer can answer questions asked by people in common speech.
Mayer is the CEO of Yahoo! She graduated in 1999 from Stanford University with a Masters in Computer Science and with 14 job offers waiting for her. She chose to work for Google first, working as a developer and overseeing small engineering teams. She worked up the chain at Google and pushed herself into a good enough standing to be chosen by Yahoo! as CEO. Although there are mixed reviews regarding her performance and results at Yahoo, it’s clear that she possesses great STEM skill sets but might not have done quite as well in the business aspect as CEO. Overall she has still made great accomplishments and hopefully will be remembered for all of the good she has done.
Karaboutis is the Digital Officer at National Grid. She has a B.S. in Computer Science and has worked at the following companies: General Motors, Ford, Dell’s Vice President of IT and Global CIO, and Biogen. She played an integral and influential role at Dell before moving on to Biogen, where she focused the company to advance its use of IT solutions. Specifically, she pushed the company to work on wearable technology to help patients and health-care providers.
Novakovic was a literal undercover CIA agent and is now in the booming position of CEO forGeneral Dynamics – a defense contractor for the government. Under her leadership and direction, the companies stock has risen above its competitors in the past year. She has pushed the company heavily in the field of cybersecurity which has taken the corporation to new heights.
6. Lynn Good
In 2013, Good became the first female CEO of the nation’s largest utility company–Duke Energy. She is driving the direction of the company away from coal and says that over the next 10 years Duke Energy will invest over $10 billion in gas and renewable energy projects. An article published by Duke Energy says, “Under Good’s leadership, Duke Energy is embracing new technologies and forward-thinking strategies that strengthen the company’s environmental stewardship.”
Williams is the CEO and President of PG&E (Pacific Gas and Electric Company). She has nearly 4 decades of experience in the energy industry. She earned her bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Miami and has held many positions in the energy field, such as: director at the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) and Edison Electric Institute (EEI), CEO co-Chair of the Customer Energy Solutions Policy Committee, and she is on the board of the Center for Energy Workforce Development (CEWD). PG&E published an article about Williams saying, “During her tenure at PG&E, the company has become a leader in renewables integration, grid modernization and smart grid technologies, while also achieving the best electric reliability in company history.”
8. Debra Reed
Reed is President, CEO, and Chairman of the board of directors for Sempra Energy. Sempra is a Fortune 500 company based in San Diego that provides natural gas, electricity, and value-added products and services. It is a large corporation with more than 16,000 employees and an international consumer base of approximately 32 million. Reed graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Southern California. As detailed in an article by Sempra Energy, “In 2014, the U.S. Secretary of Energy appointed Reed to the National Petroleum Council, a privately funded, federally chartered industry advisory board to the federal government on matters pertaining to oil and natural gas industries.”
Wenger’s cousin was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was only fifteen. But, two years later, Wenger used her skills in computer science to design an artificial brain to detect indicators of this disease. This innovative project won her first prize in the Google Science Fair and she is now a computer science major at Duke University. Her breast cancer test is now being beta tested by two cancer research centers.
10. Ellen Kendall
Kendall is the “Steminist” student profile of their most recent post. Steminist focuses on announcing the important work women are currently making today in STEM fields and research. Kendall worked throughout high school to develop an inexpensive and renewable water filter that removes heavy metals from polluted water. The filter is intelligently made out of a chemical derived from seaweed and it can be used to stop heavy metal pollution in the environment and in drinking water worldwide.
As you can see from this extremely short list of influential women in STEM, if you have passion for a STEM-related project or goal, you can make it happen! Almost all of the women on this list are known for their astounding accomplishments and lasting footprints in their respective fields. They certainly had obstacles along the way, but let them be a demonstration to you that you can overcome anything. The last two are prime examples of female students your age doing incredible things. You could be on a list like this too if you work to follow through with your passions in STEM!