Femdacity Celebrates Black History Month- Sciences and Healthcare

During this second week of Black History Month, we turn our attention to the trailblazers in the areas of Science and Healthcare.  We have stories of Feminine Audacity that extend beyond the classroom to space, the 1800s to the current day, and the US to Africa.  Many thanks to The Varsity Publications.

Enjoy learning about these amazing women!

The Biologist: Wangari Maathai

Wangari Maathai

Wangari Maathai was a biologist, environmental activist, and the first woman in Africa to earn a PhD.  In 1977, she founded the Green Belt Movement, focusing on tree planting, environmental conservation, and women’s rights. In 2004, Maathai became the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Doctor:  Rebecca Lee Crumpler

Rebecca Lee Crumpler

Rebecca Lee Crumpler was the first African-American woman to earn an M.D. After gaining 8 years of experience working as a nurse, she applied to the New England Female Medical College and completed her studies in 1864.  When the Civil War ended in 1865, she decided to move to Richmond, Virginia, where she would help newly freed slaves find their footing during the Reconstruction.

The Physicist:  Shirley Ann Jackson

Shirley Jackson

Shirley Ann Jackson obtained her PhD in Nuclear Physics, becoming the first Black woman to earn a PhD from MIT. As a postdoctoral researcher, she worked on subatomic particles in the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Switzerland. She served as chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and is currently the 18th president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

The Astronaut:  Mae Carol Jemison

Mae Jemison

While studying engineering in college in the '90s, Dr Mae Jemison was one of my heroes.  She is best known as the first Black woman to travel to space.  With degrees in Chemical Engineering and Medicine, she practiced medicine with the Peace Corps in West Africa.  She changed careers in 1987 and was admitted to the astronaut training program.  In 1992, she traveled space spending 8 days orbiting the earth.  


In the US, Black women make up about 6% of the population but less than 2.5% of science and engineers and 2% of physicians.  Dr. Joycelyn Elders, the first black U.S. Surgeon General is quoted as saying “you can’t be what you can’t see.”  I couldn't agree more Dr Elders.  It's time we get to 'see' more of us in these roles.

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