This October, we’re celebrating the careers of six Black women innovators and engineers as part of the 2023 Black History Month theme, ‘Saluting Our Sisters’. We believe that sharing these stories is important because representation matters. Racial disparities persist in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects within higher education and related career paths. More work needs to be done to foster diversity now, and one way of doing this is by recognising the achievements of individuals who are often overlooked in STEM.
Dr Kanu’s work focusses on addressing problems in the important area of global food sustainability. Drawing on her PhD in Environmental Engineering and research interests in artificial intelligence (AI) and Omics analysis, she has found ways to turn waste into a resource. She’s the CEO and founder of IntelliDigest Ltd, where cutting-edge technology that makes use of AI, Internet of Things and quantum computing is being applied to transform food waste into bio-nutrients and sustainable chemicals to create a more circular food system. Learn more on Dr Kanu’s LinkedIn.
Dr Bath’s incredible innovation in medical technology has restored the vision of thousands of people. Bath was an American ophthalmologist and inventor best known for developing the laserphaco probe, a device that surgically removes cataracts. It’s able to successfully restore vision even in people who have been blind for decades. Bath’s research in epidemiology early in her career led her to discover the disparate prevalence of blindness among African Americans, due to limited access to healthcare. This led her to a long and impressive career in ophthalmology despite the barriers she faced due to her race, gender, and socioeconomic background. (Source)
It’s hard not to be impressed by Dr Payne’s work to support her community, which has been recognised by awards like the Financial Time’s 2018 Top 100 BAME Leaders in Tech and the Black British Business Awards STEM Rising Star Winner. A chemical engineer, a former scientist with AstraZeneca and now a healthcare and life sciences consultant, she’s also the founder of BBSTEM, a non-profit organisation that supports Black individuals in STEM fields and aims to inspire the next generation of Black students in STEM. Learn more on Dr Payne’s LinkedIn.
Vice President of Engineering at Google and holder of over 200 patents, Dr Croak is an incredibly influential figure in the field of computer science. A native of New York City, she completed a PhD in Quantitative Analysis and Psychology and then went on to hold a number of roles at AT&T’s Bell Laboratories. She’s best known for her contribution to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology, which advanced the capabilities of audio and video conferencing, and was part of the team at AT&T that developed TCP/IP, an important framework for packaging and communicating information on the internet. On top of all of that, she also invented a way to donate money by text message in order to support charities in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. She has been inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame as well as the National Inventors Hall of Fame. (Source)
Graduating with honours from Washington, D.C.’s Howard University in 1910, Parker went on to make major contributions to the modern system of central heating. Her inventions included the first natural gas furnace and the first heating system to make use of air ducts which evenly distributed warmth throughout a building and allowed for temperature to be moderated in different areas. At the time, it was a huge achievement for an African American woman to apply for and be granted a patent despite the many challenges she must have faced. Unfortunately, little is known about Parker’s life and there are no confirmed photos of her, but her work continues to benefit society today. (Source 1) (Source 2)
Last but certainly not least, Dr Aderin-Pocock is a talented space scientist and communicator with a PhD in mechanical engineering from Imperial College London. She helped to develop an ultra-thin film measurement system using spectroscopy and interferometry which was commercialised by the spin-off company PCS Instruments. She strives to inspire young people to pursue careers in STEM through participation in science fairs, school talks, and children’s books. (Source)
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