6 Inspiring Women in Science for Women’s History Month

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’d like to share the stories of some inspiring women whose contributions have advanced the fields of STEM, biology, nutrition, childhood development, and environmental sciences. We applaud their hard work and commitment to bettering both their communities and the world!

If you want to learn more about these bold women in science, just click on their photos.

Flemmie P. Kittrell (1904–1980)
Flemmie P. Kittrell was an academic and a world-traveller, with her research on nutrition, home economics, and childhood development taking her international, most notably to Liberia and India. Her research in Liberia on the effects of malnutrition uncovered a “hidden hunger,” where a person could be full and hungry while still lacking the necessary vitamins and nutrients for development and health. Kittrell was an active member of the American Association of University Women and the first black woman to receive a PhD in nutrition.

Isatou Ceesay (1972–Present)
Isatou Ceesay, named the “Queen of Recycling in the Gambia,” has been educating women on waste management and recycling for 17 years and, in 1997, came together with other women in her village to start the Njau Recycling and Income Generating Group. Their story is shared in One Plastic Bag, a book that illustrates how Ceesay and four women creatively recycled trash to make their village cleaner and healthier while earning extra income from their recycled products. Ceesay later co-founded the Women’s Initiative Gambia and won the TIAW “Difference Maker” award in Washington D.C. in 2012.

“Uniformity is not nature’s way; diversity is nature’s way.” 

— Vandana Shiva, environmental activist, author, and food sovereignty advocate

Winona LaDuke (1959–Present)
Winona LaDuke is a writer, activist, and public speaker well known for her environmental advocacy and social justice work. In 2007, LaDuke was inducted in the National Women’s Hall of Fame for her life’s work in conservation, sustainable development, and renewable energy, as well as her dedication to recovering and preserving Native land and traditional practices. To date, LaDuke has authored seven books, most recently The Winona LaDuke Chronicles: Stories from the Front Lines in the Battle for Environmental Justice in 2016.

Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717)
Maria Sibylla Merian was a entomologist, naturalist, and artist known for her illustrations of insects and plants during the 1600s. On her expedition to Suriname, South America in 1699, she and her youngest daughter spent several years observing and sketching the native plants and animals in the region. During her lifetime, Merian studied the life-cycles and maturation of many different plant and animals species in Europe and South America, published several volumes of her own illustrations, and has gone on to inspire naturalists and scientists with her observations.

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”

— Rachel Carson, marine biologist and writer of Silent Spring

Mamie Phipps Clark (1917–1983)
Mamie Phipps Clark was a social psychologist whose early career focused largely on child development and race consciousness in children. While studying at Howard University, Mamie met her husband Kenneth Bancroft Clark, and the two of them would later collaborate on the famous “Doll Test” experiment, used during the Brown v. Board of Education case to show the harmful effects of segregation on children’s self-esteem. In 1946, Clark became the Director of Northside Center in Harlem, which provided psychological services to the city’s minority groups, where she remained until retiring in 1979. 

Wangari Maathai (1940–2011)
Wangari Maathai is a writer, political activist, environmentalist, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, awarded to her in 2004 for “’her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace’, the first African woman and environmentalist to win the prize.” In 1977, Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, an organization which plants trees to support environmental conservation and fight against deforestation. In addition to founding and coordinating GBM, Maathai authored four books, was a member and later chairman of the National Council of Women of Kenya, and was a social activist, serving on the board of many different human rights and environmental organizations.  

“We cannot tire or give up. We owe it to the present and future generations of all species to rise up and walk!”

— Wangari Maathai