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Girl Power

8 Women Who
Inspired Today’s
STEM Innovators

The women who showed us the way.

Though we’re trying to amend this now, many women currently working in STEM field just didn’t have a mentor they could call up for advice or model their career after. Thankfully, there have been pioneers both in pop culture and throughout history who have motivated women and shown them that women can make a difference in STEM. We asked women in STEM fields who they looked up and how that person ultimately shaped their future.

Kalpana Chawla

“When I was learning about the space program, it was inspiring to see strong role models like Dr. Kalpana Chawla. Like Dr. Chawla, I pursued engineering. I ultimately ended up in a very rewarding career in medical devices, but the spark of wonder at what was possible in engineering is where it all began.” – K.T. Lee, Engineer & Author of The Calculated series

Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan

“It was the curiosity component and how using science to get to the answer that I admired about Dr Bones. I thought it was fascinating to know as much as she did, and how her logic helped her solve cases. ” – Isachristel Valdez, Environmental Scientist

Rosalind Franklin

“When I was a kid, I did a project on Rosalind Franklin, a biophysicist known for work with creating the DNA double helix model. I found out years later I was attending the same university she had! She was a very stubborn and confident person who didn’t let other people’s perceptions of who she should be stop her intellectual curiosity. The type of work I do with computer hardware is very different from hers, but I think it helped, even a just little, to see such a strong female role model making such an impact in her field.” – Farzana Haque, Computer Engineering Student at UIUC

Hermione Granger

“She’s unafraid to be smart, is always right, and showed me how to take ownership of technical knowledge.” – Xyla Foxlin, Executive Director of Beauty and the Bolt

Helen Sharman

“Hearing that a woman—and a female chemist at that—could go into space lit up my ears as a child. This helped drive my science education, even when, and when the science lessons were basically uninspiring. I knew that if I had a science background, I would be in the best position to fulfill my dreams and help the human race understand the universe, so I studied physics which has turned into a career. Now, I’m helping other women pursue their leadership dreams.” – Dr Toni Collis, CEO and Leadership & Success Coach at Collis-Holmes Innovations Limited/Co-Founder and Chair of Women in High Performance Computing

Seven of Nine

Star Trek: Voyager was on every day when I got home from school. I loved how Seven of Nine was always doing these really complex astrophysics calculations. When I got to university, I wanted to be a theoretical physicist. I worked at the Subatomic Physics Institute where my job was to reconcile experimental data from high-energy physics experiments to quantum chromodynamics theory. I think that Seven would have enjoyed doing those kinds of calculations too.” – Briana Brownell, Founder & CEO, PureStrategy.ai

Elizabeth Blackwell

“My dad bought me a book about Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to get a medical degree in the US, when I was in third grade. I remember being fascinated by her perseverance through adversity and the curiosity that drove her to pursue something unheard of for women in her time. Because of her, I wanted to be a doctor for a long time and though I eventually ended up in a different area of STEM, reading about her journey definitely inspired my academic journey from a young age.” – Sahana Srinivasan, Software Engineer

Ms. Frizzle


“I liked that Ms. Frizzle made science fun and interesting, and that she was authentically herself. It was cool to be different!” – Aila Enos, Software Engineer II at Microsoft

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