Like, one of them invented a system to purify water when she was 12 years old. 12!!!
So, here’s a bizarre thing: women outnumber men by a long shot in science courses at university. 69 percent of med tech students are women; 77 percent of vet students are, too, as well as a whopping 79 percent of psychology students. The numbers hover at about the same rates for clinical medicine, dentistry, biology, archaeology and agriculture. But that’s not what’s really bizarre about all this, even though the female majority in science at school is a clear contrast to the perception that there are no women in science. No, no, the strange thing is that despite female leadership in science education, the number of women authoring scientific journals or holding leadership positions in their fields has actually been going down since 2009.
How do you explain this baffling predicament? According to researchers, the relentless gender bias in scientific fields and the systemic ‘erasure’ of women working in science is to blame. Bottom line is, people don’t see women in science as much as they see men—but they should, because women are making some serious progress in various scientific fields that benefit the rest of us. So today, we’re shining a light on the work of five brilliant inventors, physicists and entrepreneurs from various ages and fields for you to fill your educational brain-chambers with.
When she was just 12 years old, Rachel Zimmerman developed an invention that would change lives. The Canadian created a software that used Blissymbolics, a tool for individuals with severe speech and physical impairments, to communicate through symbols which then translate to words.
Funnily enough, her invention started off as a project built for a school science fair. However, it led her to compete at the World Exhibition of Achievement of Young Inventors, where she placed second. Studying physics and space studies turned out to be her choice for college education and it later brought Zimmerman to work for The Planetary Society in California, teaching people about space exploration.
Born in 1998, Deepika Kurup is already giving us a run for our money. Her journey started back in 2012 when she was awarded with a 25,000 cash prize and was declared the winner of the 2012 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge for ”creating an inventive, cost-effective and and sustainable water purification system.’’
According to Discovery, the prototype she has created can be used by utilising solar energy in order to ‘’disinfect contaminated water.’’ Accessing clean drinking water is a problem for more than a billion people on this planet, thus this invention could possibly be the ‘holy grail’ of helping resolve this massive issue. Deepika was also named the ‘America’s Top Young Scientist’ the same year, won the U.S. Stockholm Junior Water Prize in 2014 AND was named one of the Forbes’ 2015 30 under 30 in Energy. Not bad.
Crushing all racial and gender bias, Janet Emerson Bashen became the first African-American woman to hold a patent for a software invention a little over a decade ago. Not only that, but she built her business from the ground up: when she first launched her business, her office was her home kitchen table. She came up with the idea for LinkLine – a software that assists with web-based Equal Employment Opportunity investigations – in 2001; five years later, her patent was approved.
That software turned into her company, Bashen Corporation – which she’s still the owner of today. Bashen has received a number of awards including the Pinnacle Award by the Houston Citizens Chamber of Commerce, and shows no signs of stopping any time soon.
Diagnosed with mild autism as a child, Temple Grandin went on to become an inventor, activist and professor of animal science who has made a lasting contribution to the livestock industry. Colorado State University President Tony Frank summarized her role as a role model for young women pretty aptly: “Early in her career, her determination helped her break into what was a largely male-dominated animal production industry,” he says. “She continues to serve as an advocate for women in the sciences, for young people with autism, and for anyone unwilling to let artificial boundaries stand in the way of their personal and professional success.”
Earlier this year, Temple Grandin was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, becoming one of only ten women awarded the spot this year.
This Chinese-born scientist has lead an impressive professional life so far and is still going strong. Beginning her career at the French National Blood Transfusion Centre and later going on to occupying an impressive position in Abbott Laboratories managing a group of approximately 100 people, she left the job to pursue focus on her career in research. One of her latest and most impressive inventions, introduced in 2011, is called SAMBA. It’s an inexpensive and quick blood testing device which has already started to alter the field of HIV testing, especially in areas like sub-Saharan Africa. It’s a huge breakthrough for HIV testing and treatment, so bravo, Helen.