Why are Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice Important?
At The Leadership Edge, we have been committed to Diversity for more than 31 years and we, like much of the general public, are now increasing our focus to the equally important areas of Equity, Inclusion and Justice. This Black History Month, we are proud to highlight some of the brilliant minds who had to overcome unimaginable hurdles on their way to monumental contributions all while inspiring youth around the world to focus on S.T.E.M. studies.
Alma Levant Hayden Chemist at the National Institute of Arthritis & Metabolic Diseases (now the NIH), and the FDA.
Bettye Washington Greene Chemist specializing in latex & polymers was the first black woman to work at the Dow Chemical Company.
Carolyn Parker Scientist on the Dayton Project, part of the Manhattan Project, a U.S. government atomic weapons research project during WWII.
Dorothy Vaughan Computer scientist & mathematician who was part of the NASA ‘human computers’ depicted in the 2016 Hidden Figures movie.
Gladys West Mathematician who worked on the processing & analysis of satellite data that lead to the development of the Global Positioning System.
Katherine Johnson Another of NASA’s ‘human computers’ who performed the complex calculations that enabled humans to successfully achieve space flight.
Margaret Collins Entomologist & Zoologist known as the “Termite Lady” for her extensive research on termites & co-discoverer of the Neotermes luykxi species.
Marie M. Daly Chemist who was the first black woman to receive a Ph.D. in chemistry in the United States.
Mary Jackson NASA’s first black female engineer. Also in the film, Hidden Figures, she worked on research related to the Supersonic Pressure Tunnel
Raye Montague Engineer in the U.S. Navy inspired by submarines is credited as the first person to design a naval ship (USS Oliver Hazard Perry) with computer design tools.
Willie Hobbs Moore Physicist whose research focused on infrared spectroscopy and the first black woman to earn a doctorate in Physics.
And let’s not forget about the men…
Benjamin Banneker Astronomer & Mathematician who surveyed the land that became the U.S. capital while discussing racial equality with Thomas Jefferson.
Edward Alexander Bouchet Physicist, H.S. Bachelors from Yale University & first black man to earn a doctorate degree in the United States.
Ernest Everett Just Biologist who pioneered fertilization, parthenogenesis, hydration, cell division & ultraviolet carcinogenic radiation effects on cells.
Garrett Morgan Inventor responsible for hair straightening solution, a patented Breathing Device which was the first gas mask & the first traffic signal in the U.S.
George Washington Carver Born a slave, he went on to become one of the most prominent scientists & inventors of his time devising 100+ products.
James West invented the microphone & holds 200+ patents for microphones/polymer foil electrets & his transducers are used in 90+ % of microphones today.
Norbert Rillieux Inventor of a revolutionary process for refining sugar. One of his patents was initially declined because it was believed he was a slave & therefore not a US citizen (Rillieux was free).
Otis Boykin Inventor who worked at P. J. Nilsen Research Laboratories inventing wire precision resistor used in tv & radio + a pacemaker control unit.
Percy Julian Chemist not allowed to attend H.S. but went on to earn his Ph.D. & his research led to the chemical synthesis of drugs to treat glaucoma & arthritis.
Samuel Massie Jr. Chemist & first Black professor at the U.S. Naval Academy making him the first black person to teach full-time at any US military academy.
St. Elmo Brady Chemist & first black American to receive a Ph.D. in chemistry in the U.S. from the University of Illinois & becoming a professor at HBU’s.
The Leadership Edge is committed to not only increasing diversity in the life sciences, but also ensuring individuals feel a strong sense of belonging and contribution. Keep an eye out, as we begin to roll out new internal initiatives, as well as those that are designed to support our clients in their DEI&J efforts, beginning with the boardroom.
As I learn and practice being a better ally for social justice, I acknowledge the important step in reading and reflecting on the history of marginalized people. Thanks, TLE, for highlighting these pioneers in their fields of work. It is a reminder not only of their contributions but of their forerunning to advance the science when likely they faced many unjust barriers simply because of the perceptions around their “race”.