As we move towards a more inclusive and diverse society, we must recognize and celebrate the hard work and achievements that Gen Z women have contributed to STEM fields. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics, and for centuries now, these have been male-dominated fields. However, young women are breaking down these stereotypes and barriers that prevent their work from being recognized and appreciated.
The American Association of University Women reports that women make up only 34% of the workforce in STEM, and men vastly outnumber women majoring in most STEM fields in college. According to MasterCard, “Gen Z females (77%) are more likely to be encouraged to do well in STEM compared to millennial females (67%).” This statistic most likely stems (get it?) from the fact that in more recent years, female representation in STEM college majors and jobs has slightly increased — but there’s still a lot more work to do. From developing innovative solutions to problems like water contamination and cyberbullying to conducting groundbreaking research in areas like neuroscience and AI, these women are changing the face of STEM.
With National STEM Day on Nov. 8, here’s a list of women we should acknowledge and congratulate for their STEM-related accomplishments.
- Kiara Nirghin
Nirghin is a 23-year-old inventor from South Africa who has created solutions for worldwide drought. She was also featured on TIME Magazine’s Top 30 Most Influential for creating a unique polymer that holds hundreds of times its weight in water and is also biodegradable, inexpensive and free of harmful chemicals. Her Instagram is @Kiara_Nirghin.
- Emma Yang
Yang is a Harvard junior, computer scientist, and app developer. She created an app called Timeless, which helps patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s stay connected to their friend and families. She’s also a three-time Carnegie Hall Performer, MIT Solver, and TEDx Speaker who’s been named on lists such as the World Science Festival’s World Science Scholars in 2019. Her X handle is @emmayang78.
- Kavya Kopparapu
Born in 1999, Kopparapu is a student at Harvard University and is the founder of GirlsComputingLeague, which brings technology to all students and diversity in technology in the workplace. She also developed a mobile app called Eyeagnosis, which can help diagnose blindness and other diseases, in 2017. Her Instagram handle is @Kavya.Kopparapu.
- Maanasa Mendu
Mendu is currently a senior at Harvard University, where she is best known for her impressive work in renewable energy that addresses energy poverty. She was also featured on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list back in 2017 for a device that harvests energy from sun, wind and rain.You can find Mendu on X at @maanasamendu02.
- Anvita Gupta
Gupta graduated from McMaster University in 2022. She’s known for neuroscience and her research on DNA and protein functions, which develops a model to synthesize DNA to produce functional proteins needed for antimicrobial peptides. She is also from Ontario and represents us Ontario girls!
- Anna Du
Anna Du is a 17-year-old chemist who invented a vehicle-like device that detects dangerous microplastics in oceans. She is also an advocate for gender equity in STEM and created a Deep Plastics Initiative to help educate children and promote them to understand and clean up plastic pollution in the ocean.
- Gitanjali Rao
Rao is a 17-year-old scientist and inventor, whom TIME Magazine named Kid of the Year back in 2020 for her development of using technology for water contamination from opioids. She is also passionate about cyberbullying and one of her main missions to empower young innovators to solve current world issues. She’s even published a book, A Young Innovator’s Guide To STEM. Her Instagram handle is @Gitanjalirao.
- Aneesha Nayak
This 18-year-old climate activist is from Tampa and is the co-founder of Girls for Science: Environmental, which is a branch of the Girls For Science nonprofit that gives young students hands-on experience with STEM-related projects and workshops. Her Instagram is @_oceanchild_.
- Akshaya Dinesh
This 23-year-old developed an online platform called Ladder where students and alums can create communities with each other, staying connected during the pandemic. She dropped out of Stanford to start the company, and is now the founder and CEO of Spellbound, a tech company that designs interactive emails. Her X handle is @AkshayaDinesh19.
- Sophia Kianni
Kianni is a 21-year-old climate activist who created Climate Cardinals, an international nonprofit that translates climate information in over 100 different languages. She’s also the youngest United Nations advisor in U.S. history. Her Instagram handle is @SophiaKianni.
- Alyssa Carson
At just 22 years old, Carson is training to be an astronaut. She was the first person to attend all three NASA Space Camps in the world, is an ambassador representing Mars One (a mission to establish a human colony on Mars in 2030), and is officially certified to go to space. You can keep up with her on Instagram at @NASABlueberry.
- Diana “Nyamekye” Wilson
Wilson is the 27-year-old founder and CEO of Black Sisters in STEM, a platform built to help Black college women in STEM enter the workforce and get hired, through mentorship, peer networks, internship opportunities, and more. With the lack of representation for Black women in STEM, Wilson and her company are on “a mission to unleash the global brilliance of Black women in STEM.”