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Profiles of Women Who #ChooseToChallenge: an International Women’s Day Series

Updated: February 23, 2021 | Share on LinkedIn

Aisha Bowe

Aisha Bowe grew up in a working class family in Ann Arbor, MI, the daughter of a Bahamian father, who immigrated to the United States and drove a taxi to support his family. Aisha was not a confident kid, and didn’t always spend time with the best crowd in high school. Her guidance counselor suggest that consider going into to cosmetology after high school. But her father encouraged her to take some math classes and the rest is history. She enrolled at the University of Michigan and completed her undergraduate degree in Aerospace engineering in 2008 and her master’s degree in Space System engineering in 2009. Right out of college, Aisha started working at NASA and earned the National Society of Black Engineers Award for Outstanding Technical Contribution.

“I spent time in the government working for NASA as a rocket scientist, and I didn’t see people who looked like me,” she said. “I wanted to find a company that could demonstrate technical proficiency well by doing cool things.” That’s when she launched STEMBoard, “I’m out to elevate the profile of what it means to be a Black woman in tech, to be a CEO, and to run a company in the hopes of inspiring more people to do the same thing,” she said. “Because when you have multi-million dollar companies, you can create more. We can make investments. We can provide that leadership and infrastructure, which is the ecosystem that our people need to grow and succeed.”

She has made it her mission to empower minority youth to help create a future for themselves, their families and ultimately for their entire community. It is important to her to demonstrate to the black community that technology is a career option.

Visit Aisha’s page to learn more.

How This Former NASA Engineer Wants to Make STEM Youth Education More Accessible

More statistics on women entrepreneurs

Photo Credit: Ebony Magazine, Quotes by Ms. Bowe taken from November 2020 Interview with Afrotech

Ada Lovelace [1815 – 1852]

Ada Lovelace is considered by many to be the mother of computer programming. She was a friend and colleague of Charles Babbage who is known for his groundbreaking work for designing the “analytical machine” which could handle large volumes of calculations.

Ada broke new ground in computing, identifying an entirely new concept. She realized that an analytical engine could go beyond numbers. This was the first ever perception of a modern computer – not just a calculator – but a machine that could contribute to other areas of human endeavor, for example composing music.

Ada had grasped that anything that could be converted into numbers, such as music, or the alphabet (language) or images, could then be manipulated by computer algorithms. An analytical engine had the potential to revolutionize the way the whole world worked, not just the world of mathematics.

75 years ago, six Philadelphia women became the first digital programmers in service to the US Army. Read more.

Watch a short 2-minute video discussing Ada.

Here’s a quick 3-5 minute read from The New Yorker about Ada.

Photo Credit: Silicon Bayou News

Amanda Gorman [born 1998]

If asked “Who is Amanda Gorman?”, one will likely tell of Amanda’s delivery of her original poem at the Presidential Inauguration in January. However, Amanda had achieved remarkable things well before her Inaugural performance, having been named the United States’ first Youth Poet Laureate at the age of 19. Now 22, she is using her poetry and her voice to bring about social change.

Amanda was raised in Los Angeles by her mother, an English teacher, with her two siblings. Before she started university, she had already acted as youth delegate to the United Nations, was named first youth poet laureate of Los Angeles, and published a poetry book. She went on to attend Harvard University, graduating in 2020, but don’t think for a moment that this slowed down her poetry or activism.

Amanda knew from an early age that she wanted to be a proponent for change, but this goal did not come without obstacles. One challenge she faced was a speech impediment she had from childhood, which made some letters difficult to pronounce, particularly the letter “R”. It has been through much determination and music therapy (specifically a Hamilton song) that she has overcome this challenge. Amanda is a role model for women today, showing us that the arts and one voice can change the world.

Click here to read more about the movement. Full STEAM ahead!

Watch this short 4-minute video to hear Amanda’s own words.

Photo Credit: S/Magazine/photographed by Stephanie Mitchell

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