Six Must-Watch TED Talks by Women STEM Leaders

Each year, International Women’s Day provides an opportunity to envision a different, more equitable reality. When we picture what an equitable STEM landscape would look like, what do we see?

The following six scientists and technologists gave TED and TEDx talks in which they share their visions for STEM: visions of intersectionality, inclusiveness, justice, and imagination. Not only can they see a different STEM, they are making it a reality, and we should follow their lead.

1. “Intersectionality will save the future of science” by Shawntel Okonkwo

Shawntel Okonkwo, molecular biologist and founder of WokeSTEM, asks us to consider who’s been left out of scientific and technological advances and how we can bring their voices and experiences to the center. “We need to build intersectionality into the cultural DNA of how we think about science, how we teach science, how we fund science, and who science truly serves.”

2. “The risks of failure are not equitably distributed” by Kimberly Bryant

Engineer Kimberly Bryant wants to see more Black women become engineers and technologists (currently they hold less than 10% of all technical roles.) As the founder and CEO of Black Girls Code, she strives to make failure safe for those who are marginalized and “nurture Black girl geniuses.”

3. “You Are a Molecular Masterpiece” by Dr. Samantha Yammine

Neuroscientist and science communicator Dr. Samantha Yammine wants us to recognize “the beauty in our biology” not only in ourselves, but in others, and to show compassion for one another and our multi-layered, intersectional identities.

4. “How hip-hop helps us understand science” by Dr. Danielle N. Lee

Dr. Danielle N. Lee is a mammalogist and champion of diversity and access in STEM. In her popular (and catchy) TED talk, she explains, “I use hip-hop to frame and communicate science because I’m intentionally communicating science to broader audiences that public science outreach has traditionally overlooked, and in the process, I’m affirming the genius that thrives in the young minds of people from every hood everywhere.”

5. “The untapped genius that could change science for the better” by Dr. Jedidah Isler

Dr. Jedidah Isler is an astrophysicist and founder of VanguardSTEM. Her TED talk, which has been viewed over 2 million times, underscores the need for intersectional identities in STEM. “Women of color in STEM occupy some of the toughest and most exciting sociotechnological issues of our time. Thus, we are uniquely positioned to contribute to and drive these conversations in ways that are more inclusive of a wider variety of lived experience.”

6. “Take Your Humanity With You” by Dr. Sarah Myhre

Climate scientist Dr. Sarah Myhre says that STEM fields need intersectional feminism in order to serve society. She asks “What if being a scientist meant that you fundamentally advocated for human rights and equity in every aspect of your professional service?”

Illustration by Jenna Jablonski.


Sister is an independent media platform amplifying the voices of gender minorities in STEM.

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