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8 pioneering black women in science, technology and medicine

Black Women in Science

8 pioneering black women in science, technology and medicine


The contributions of black women to society have often been overlooked. Yet the work these eight African-American women performed in their careers — be it medicine, technology or personal hygiene products — helped many people and advanced the profile for black women both in the U.S. and around the world:

Shirley Ann Jackson

Shirley Ann Jackson participates in the 'Changing Landscapes: From the Digital Classroom to the Global Campus' panel in 2012
Shirley Ann Jackson was the first black woman to earn a doctorate at MIT. (Photo: Jemal Countess/Getty Images for TIME)

Shirley Ann Jackson started classes at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1964, one of only a few African-American students at the university, and she was the only one studying theoretical physics. After finishing her bachelor’s degree, Jackson did her Ph.D. work at MIT as well. In 1973, she became the first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. from MIT and the second to earn a Ph.D. in physics in the U.S. Once out of the academy, Jackson worked at various laboratories, including AT&T Bell Laboratories, FermiLab and the European Organization for  …

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I am a future butterfly at the stage of growth when I am turning into an adult. I am enclosed in a hard case shell formed by love, family, and friends. It is the hardest stage of becoming a black butterfly. You will encounter many hardships only to come out stronger and better than what you went in. At this stage, you are finding out who you truly are and how to love yourself.

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