Brilliant Ideas Shaping the world
Author and journalist, Zara Stone, had penned a book about women in STEM for young minds who are considering following in their female footsteps and changing the world.
Each chapter touches on a different problem, from climate change to criminal justice and the future of work, all told through the lens of female scientists working on solutions. The stories tell of how a diverse group of women embarked on a STEM career in a male orientated world. Sharing their trips into the ivory towers makes for empowering reading, real encouragement and inspiration for today’s amazing girls.
These stories are important; less than 4% of Latinas and 3% of Black women obtain doctoral degrees in science and engineering. Women account for 20% of all undergraduate degrees in engineering, physics, and computer science but only 11% end up working in STEM.
From saving the oceans to tackling criminal justice reforms and designing sailboats, these female scientists and entrepreneurs are bringing change, one unique idea at a time.
WISA looks at two of the women featured in the book.
Dominique Barnes (22), in an effort to save the ocean’s fish populations, created an equally delicious and nutritious substitute for shrimp using red algae and their product is now gaining attention worldwide. As co-founder of New Wave Foods, she and her partner, Michelle Wolf, were new graduates when they decided to save the planet, a daunting task.
Dominique said that being a woman in biotech is challenging, but she proved that a person without a biotech background like herself, she is now leading a hugely successful biotech company. With experience in marine conservation and marine biology, her friend and co-founder, Michelle Wolf, guided her and teaches her about the biotech space.
Her advice for others is that it is not about being 100% matched to the qualifications, but about being confident in yourself and your skills.
Behind the lab coat – women will be women
Female scientists are indeed women who love dressing up and looking beautiful as Pree Walia, the entrepreneur and inventor behind Nailbot, has proved. It might not have been designed to save the world, but it would make women’s lives so much easier.
Nailbot is a unique and ground-breaking device printing nail art directly onto nails. If you own a Smartphone the nail art can be printed from it. Pree and her team spent years tweaking and fine-tuning it and in 2017 shipped their first unit.
During her first job while still in business school, this enterprising young woman worked for an LED lighting control start-up. After that job, she took a summer off and while in Europe trying to get her nails done which can be very costly, she knew there “had to be a better and easier way.”
Around that time, a major player in the nail market, Sally Hansen, put nail dryers on the market. Pree realised something similar could be used for nail art. She was quoted as saying that she wants to create an entire family of Nailbots. For now, it would just be art, but soon, her STEM training will enable her to market a device that could paint an entire set of nails.
She learnt that her talents and passion lay in being an innovator and became part of a community of smart, dynamic, creative people. The two girls from the Guangdong province in China learnt about the prototyping process, marketing a product and establishing a supply chain. She makes it clear what had been said all along – good mentors are necessary and today their company, Preemadonna is part of the global brand, L’Oreal’s, Beauty Accelerator which provides access to senior management and executives.
This PREEmadonna says that being able to build from an idea is entrepreneurship and that with the right minds as part of a team, no girl should consider herself lacking the ability to attain a dream – be it in the beauty industry or hardcore STEM fields.