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Category: women in STEM
  • Dr. Kazue Togasaki became one of the first Japanese American women to earn a medical degree in the US.

    In the midst of World War II, as many people of Japanese ancestry were incarcerated in internment camps, a pioneering doctor helped ensure that pregnant women got the best care she could provide. Dr. Kazue Togasaki fought sexism and racism to become one of the first Japanese American women to earn a medical degree in the US. Over the course of her remarkable career, she delivered over 10,000 babies, including 50 during one month at the Tanforan Assembly Center. "In other camps, I know they’d send the pregnant women out to the nearest county hospital to deliver, but I never thought about sending them out from Tanforan," she recalled years later. "I thought it was my duty." Continue reading Continue reading

  • NASA's Washington, D.C. Headquarters is being renamed in honor of Mary Jackson, the space agency's first African American female engineer.

    Mary Jackson was NASA's first African American female engineer — now, the space agency is honoring her contributions by renaming its Washington, D.C. headquarters in her honor! In addition to her scientific accomplishments, Jackson also led programs which supported the hiring and promotion of more women at NASA and served as a Girl Scout leader for more than 30 years. "Mary never accepted the status quo, she helped break barriers and open opportunities for African Americans and women in the field of engineering and technology," says NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. "We will continue to recognize the contributions of women, African Americans, and people of all backgrounds who have made NASA’s successful history of exploration possible." Continue reading Continue reading

  • As head of NASA's human spaceflight program, Kathy Lueders will oversee the Artemis program which plans to land a woman on the moon in 2024.

    Kathy Lueders, the NASA official who oversaw the historic SpaceX astronaut launch last month, has been named the new head of NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate! In this role, Lueders will lead all of NASA's human spaceflight programs, including the Artemis moon program which plans to land the first woman on the moon in 2024. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine praised her appointment in a statement, observing: "Kathy gives us the extraordinary experience and passion we need to continue to move forward with Artemis... and achieve the ambitious goals we’ve been given." Continue reading Continue reading

  • "Nobody, but nobody, is going to stop breathing on me."

    You've likely heard doctors or parents talking about a baby's Apgar Score, but did you know that this lifesaving measure is named for its creator, Dr. Virginia Apgar, the pioneering anesthesiologist whose work has helped save countless newborns? The Apgar Score, which is now used in many countries around the world, helps doctors quickly assess the health of newborns to determine if they need medical intervention. Apgar also authored a groundbreaking book called Is My Baby All Right? which provided parents with a reassuring and informative guide to birth defects, which had previously been a taboo topic and a source of shame to many families. Apgar's unflagging determination to provide the best possible care for both women and their babies is perhaps best summed up by her famous quote: "Nobody, but nobody, is going to stop breathing on me." Continue reading Continue reading

  • English paleontologist Mary Anning discovered the first known ichthyosaur skeleton at only 12 years old and went on to make many more discoveries which changed human's understanding of prehistoric life.

    The phrase "she sells seashells by the sea shore" isn't just a tongue twister; many people believe it refers to the trailblazing English paleontologist Mary Anning! When she was only 12 years old, Anning discovered the first complete ichthyosaur skeleton and she spent the rest of her life searching out fossils that helped change humans' understanding of prehistoric life and natural history. Sadly, because she was a woman, she was rarely credited for her critical discoveries, and only in recent years have her wide-ranging contributions received the recognition they deserve. Continue reading Continue reading

  • Dr. Patricia Bath was an early pioneer of laser eye surgery whose cataract-removal invention has saved the vision of millions of people around the world.

    A Renaissance woman in the world of vision, the pioneering ophthalmologist Dr. Patricia Bath not only founded the discipline of community ophthalmology to help underserved populations  have better access to vision care, she invented a device that quickly and easily dissolves cataracts, becoming the first black female physician to receive a medical patent. Her invention of the Laserphaco Probe was recognized by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2014 as "one of the most important developments in the field of ophthalmology" for having "helped restore or improve vision to millions of patients worldwide." A trailblazer for both women and African-Americans in medicine, Bath always considered the people she helped her greatest accomplishment, asserting that "the ability to restore vision is the ultimate reward." Continue reading Continue reading

  • A Mighty Girl's top picks of books for children about trailblazing female environmentalists of the past and present.

    With April's Earth Month comes a special opportunity to teach kids about the people all around the world doing important work to care for our environment and the life within it! In addition to the day-to-day activities that we can all do to reduce our impact on the planet, it's important to recognize the scientists and activists, both past and present, who have encouraged us to see our planet in a new way: not as a set of resources for us to extract when we please, but as a precious and delicate system that sustains all life that we must strive to protect.

    In this blog post, we're sharing books for children and teens about twenty female environmentalists who changed the way that we think and act toward the Earth. These women made groundbreaking discoveries, fought for meaningful change to laws and policies, and shared their outlook — and their joy in nature — with the world. They're sure to inspire kids to look at the world outside their front door with newfound appreciation and think about ways they can help protect the planet!

    For more Mighty Girl books about environmental issues, including many fictional stories, visit our special feature on the Top Children's Books on the Environment. Continue reading Continue reading

  • Katherine Johnson calculated -- by hand -- the flight trajectories for a number of historic missions, including the Apollo 11 flight to the Moon in 1969.

    When President Barack Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Katherine Johnson in 2015, few people had even heard her name — but today, thanks to the smash success of the book Hidden Figures and its movie adaptation, this groundbreaking mathematician has become an inspiration for girls everywhere! Continue reading Continue reading

  • NASA astronaut Christina Koch spent 328 days in space, the longest spaceflight ever by a woman.

    NASA astronaut Christina Koch returned safety to Earth today after 328 days in space, setting a new record for the longest spaceflight by a woman! Koch's original flight was supposed to be only 6 months long, but NASA extended her stay on the International Space Station (ISS) – in part to collect more data about how human bodies function after long periods in space. "It is a wonderful thing for science," Koch said in an interview in December from the ISS. "We see another aspect of how the human body is affected by microgravity for the long term. That is really important for our future spaceflight plans, going forward to the moon and Mars.... Having the opportunity to be up here for so long is truly an honor." Continue reading Continue reading

  • This trailblazing engineer became the first person in history to design a Naval ship using a computer.

    Raye Montague, the groundbreaking engineer and ship designer, smashed both gender and racial barriers to revolutionize Naval ship design and become the U.S. Navy's first female program manager of ships. While Montague was the first person to ever design a ship on a computer, her contributions were little known until Margot Lee Shetterly's book Hidden Figures, which told the story of African American female mathematicians at NASA, generated a new interest in other little-known women who made remarkable contributions with their technical prowess. Montague, who died in late 2018 and whose story has been told in a new picture book, The Girl With A Mind For Math, always credited her mother's insistence on education for giving her the push she needed to reach for her dreams. "You’ll have three strikes against you," she remembered her saying. "You’re female, you’re black and you’ll have a Southern segregated school education. But you can be or do anything you want, provided you’re educated." Continue reading Continue reading

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