Science and technology have transformed our lives in unimaginable ways and, thanks to science, what's previously seems impossible can become a reality. Who would have thought a century ago, for example, that people on opposite sides of the world could communicate easily in real time with something so small it fits in a pocket?

In the health sector, science has made huge strides in diagnosis, testing, and medication. It’s science that sent men (although no women yet) to the moon; that’s recognized and amplified the effects of climate change and solutions to help prevent it; that innovates disease- and weather-resistant crops; and so much more.

Behind many of these incredible scientific discoveries are people who have put years of research, time, energy, and resources into improving lives. Amazing individuals focusing their efforts on making life better for the next person, the next community, and the next generation to come.

But when you think of a scientist, what do you picture? Is it an Albert Einstein-esque white man in a lab coat? Because you might be surprised to know that, from space travel to climate change, many of the huge scientific achievements of our age were made by women of color, women whose names and accomplishments have gone unnoticed for far too long.

Meanwhile, the issue of gender inequality in science continues to be an obstacle for women and girls today. In fact, just 35% of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students in higher education are women. This is particularly alarming, as highlighted by UNESCO, because STEM careers are often referred to as "jobs of the future", those that drive innovation, social well-being, inclusive growth, and sustainable development.

So in commemoration of International Day of Women and Girls in Science, on Feb. 11, we want to introduce you to five incredible women of color who have shaped (and are still shaping) the course of history through science. What’s more, you can also click here to take our quiz to find out more about the remarkable achievements of the women below.

  1. Katherine Johnson (1918-2020)
  2. Dr. Wangari Muta Maathai (1940-2011)
  3. Elizabeth Anionwu
  4. Dr. Gladys West
  5. Francisca Nneka Okeke 

Read the full article about women of color in STEM by Gideon Fakomogbon at Global Citizen.