Bridging the Gender Gap: Female STEAM Heroes Inspiring the Next Generation

You might think of Marie Curie and Amelia Earhart when listing off female STEAM heroes, or even Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, popularized by the movie Hidden Figures.

While these pioneers brought visibility to women in tech in decades past, many professionals are still fighting to break down the gender and racial gaps in their STEAM fields.  

Here are 25 modern day female STEAM heroes you should know now, and can look forward to studying in future textbooks.

Eva Smith

Eva Smith is an IT architect and social entrepreneur who has won multiple awards, including Latina’s ‘25 Women Who Shine in Tech’ and Ford’s ‘Mujer Legendaria Inteligente.’ She is a speaker at BlogHer and an avid tweeter, giving a voice to Afro-Latinas by sharing how her identity affects her experience in the current STEAM environment.

Candice Mitchell

In 2016, Candice Mitchell was named a Forbes ‘30 Under 30’ to watch in the retail and ecommerce sector. She is an engineer and Georgia Tech grad who is breaking into the $3 billion African-American hair care market with Myavana, a recommendation engine for hair products and services.

Saqi Mehta

Saqi Mehta is a co-founder of ReigningIt, an organization dedicated to bringing inclusivity into STEAM. Mehta is a writer for the Huffington Post and Daily Muse and regularly works with young women to help them follow their passions for tech. It’s this dedication to helping close the gender gap that makes her a modern STEAM hero.

Alona King

Alona King is one of the co-hosts of Three Unicorns, a podcast about three black women in tech. She is a full-stack mobile application engineer, a two time Code2040 Fellow, and a student at Stanford studying computer science. She’s passionate about problem solving and finding new ways to improve the world.

Kat Bloomfield

With a passion for social entrepreneurship, Kat Bloomfield works with a variety of nonprofits in the education, STEM, and arts fields including the New York University Music Experience Design Lab (MusEDLab), the Ron Brown Scholars Program, and the Bronx Arts Ensemble. Armed with a Master’s in Nonprofit Management from Northeastern University, her goal is to tap into digital media to help nonprofits gain support and achieve their goals.

Lisa Peten

As the founder and CEO of the International Colloquium for Minorities in Cyber Security, Lisa Peten has dedicated the past five years of her life to helping close the racial gap in cybertech. ICMICS works to help minority professionals network, improve their knowledge of the industry, and support each other in cyber security. Not only does this provide a much-needed resource, but it also promotes visibility of minorities in the cybersecurity sector.

Angie Jones

On top of being a Senior Automation Engineer at Twitter, Angie Jones has patented 22 inventions in the United States and China. She also provides a voice for black women in tech through conference presentations and teaching as an adjunct college professor of computer programming. She is also involved in organizations like TechGirlz and Black Girls Code. You can follow her on Twitter or read her blog.

Lolita Taub

For most of her career, Lolita Taub has worked as a sales account executive at IBM and Cisco, using her understanding of the technology to pair companies with solutions. She is a Forbes ‘30 Under 30’ finalist and a World Economic Forum Global Shaper. She has had a passion for STEAM and promoting inclusivity ever since she was five, when she noticed how much of Rosie the Robot’s work went unappreciated on The Jetsons.

AJung Moon

Dr. AJung Moon studied human-robot interaction while earning her Ph.D. as a Vanier Scholar at the University of British Columbia. She is particularly interested in roboethics and specializes in designing nonverbal communication cues for robots to better understand human context. This includes teaching robots how to negotiate conflicts. She is a blogger and podcaster at Robohub and director of the Open Roboethics Institute, an international roboethics think tank.  

Kaya Thomas

Kaya Thomas was making waves in STEAM before she even graduated. Before earning her computer science degree at Dartmouth, she started iOS development in 2014 and launched We Read Too, a book recommendation app that features titles by people of color. She worked as a software engineering intern at Time Inc., Intuit, and Apple before becoming a full-time iOS engineer at Slack.

Camille Eddy

Camille Eddy is also a young woman making a difference in fields traditionally dominated by men. She has a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from Boise State University and has served as a social media ambassador for NASA. She is passionate about machine learning and space research and is currently a board member at Girl STEM Stars, a nonprofit academy advancing girls of color from underserved communities in science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics.

Chantal Emmanuel

Along with working as a web developer and software engineer, Chantal Emmanuel is a director for the San Francisco chapter of Women Who Code and a member of Bay Area Blacks In Tech. Interestingly enough, her major at Binghamton University was a non-science field, English, and her minor was anthropology. She developed her love of coding four years after graduation, and today is one of the top developers in the Bay Area.

Gloria Kimbwala

Gloria Kimbwala is also a programmer in the Bay Area who is dedicated to helping women and minorities in STEAM. She is a campus program specialist at Square, where she organizes their Code Camp for young women. As part of the program, computer science or engineering students get the opportunity to work with Square engineers, meet with executives, and participate in a hackathon. In her free time, Kimbwala volunteers with women in technology groups to help underserved communities.

Idalin Bobé

Idalin Bobé is a founder of TechActivist.Org, which provides technical training and political education to working class youth and activists. She wants to bridge the divide in underserved and hard-to-reach communities through tech literacy and empowerment. Her passion has also led to involvement in organizations like India Rise, Qeyno Labs Hackathons, and #YesWeCode, just to name a few. You can hear more about her story in an episode of the Breaking Into Startups podcast.

Ayori Selassie

Ayori Selassie is a self-taught software developer who started programming when she was 11. Currently, she is a product marketing engineer at Salesforce and works to help people in her community of Oakland as well as emerging female leaders in the Middle East and Africa. She is also a notable speaker for Lesbians Who Tech, a community of queer women in the STEAM industry.

Brit Fitzpatrick

Brit Fitzpatrick is the founder and CEO of MentorMe, which means her job is to help people connect and improve themselves through guidance and networking. She was named an American Express ‘Top 50 under 40’ winner because of her passion for combining technology and social enterprise. Her passion for entrepreneurship started when she was 7, when she sold Popsicles to kids who missed the ice cream truck — for a $20 markup.

Danielle Lee

Danielle Lee studies animal behavior and behavioral ecology. She is a postdoctoral research associate at Cornell University studying African giant pouched rats. Her goal is to share science with general audiences to make it more accessible. You can read more of her work in The Urban Scientist column of Scientific American.

Hadiyah Mujhid

Hadiyah Mujhid co-founded the software agency Playpen Labs along with the community organizations Black Founders and HBCU To STARTUP, both of which encourage entrepreneurship in the black community. She has also spent a lot of her spare time teaching women to code at Hackbright Academy. You can learn more about her on her blog, where she talks about her life and how she views minority representation in tech.

Melissa Hanna

Working with her mother, Melissa Hanna created Mahmee, a healthcare app that provides personalized postpartum care for moms and infants. She also founded Body Language, a live production about women’s health, and is a volunteer at Stoked Mentoring, whose goal is to create fearless leaders. Not only does she build women up through her work, but she also helps them as a tech role model.

Erica Stanley

With more than 17 years of experience at Fortune 500 companies including Boeing, Oracle, and Turner Broadcasting, Erica Stanley has worked in multiple areas of tech, including virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and human-centered computing. She founded the Atlanta network of Women Who Code, sits on the advisory board of 100 Girls Who Code to improve gender and multicultural inclusion in tech, and also works as a software engineer for SalesLoft.

Aniyia Williams

Aniyia Williams has more than a decade of training as a classical and operatic singer. She started her company, Tinsel, in 2014 when she noticed a lack of tech products created with women in mind. She creates tech jewelry, where audio accessories are just as beautiful as a necklace or ring. She also leads an organization called Black & Brown Founders and is a co-founder of the Zebras Unite, which calls for a more ethical and inclusive movement to counter existing startup and venture capital culture.

Nelly Yusupova

As the CTO of Webgrrls International, Nelly Yusupova helps women from all walks of life stay on top of tech trends and industry news. She has been involved in the women’s movement in STEAM since 1999 and was recently recognized in Fast Company’s League of Extraordinary Women. Currently, she is a technical strategist and marketing consultant.

Anisa Mirza

Anisa Mirza was also named to the Forbes ‘30 Under 30’ in 2016 for social entrepreneurship. She is a Y Combinator alum and the co-founder of Giveffect, which builds software to reduce busy work for nonprofits. Currently, her software is used by Habitat for Humanity, the United Way, and Big Brothers, Big Sisters.  

Marion Desmazières

Marion Desmazières is the tech business developer for Amazon Alexa, but she has also served as an organizer and global facilitator for Startup Weekend for more than six years. She has an MBA in Technology Commercialization from the University of Alberta and also volunteered at TigerLaunch as a judge for the technology entrepreneurship competition.

Sarah Stockdale

Sarah Stockdale has seven years of experience in scaling technology companies. She is a mentor for Venture for Canada and 500 Startups, and was a speaker at HackerYou. She considers herself a feminist and advocate for women in tech to bridge the gender gap.

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