Black History Month: Recognizing Innovators In STEM Who Have Defined Our Modern World

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Black History Month: Recognizing Innovators In STEM Who Have Defined Our Modern World

February 6, 2020

During Black History Month, it is important to take the time to celebrate the accomplishments of the Black Community, as well as recognize and learn about STEM leaders who made impactful innovations in technology, science, engineering and mathematics fields.

While celebrating these achievements, it’s also important to note that black workers are still very under-represented in STEM fields. According to a Pew Research Center report, jobs in STEM have grown by 79% – outpacing overall job growth. When you consider this fact, one might anticipate similar growth in workforce diversity in these fields. However, the report goes on to say, “Black and Hispanic workers continue to be underrepresented in the STEM workforce. Blacks make up 11% of the U.S. workforce overall but represent 9% of STEM workers. And among employed adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher, blacks are just 7% of the STEM workforce.”

Contemporary Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is an advocate for diversity and inclusion in science, noting that the issue needs to be fully addressed in order to see real change.

Learn More About Black Leaders In STEM Fields


Maxwell-LennonGeorge Carruthers, Inventor, Physicist, Engineer and Space Scientist
Scientist George Carruthers created inventions, such as the ultraviolet camera, or spectrograph, which was used by NASA in the 1972 Apollo 16 flight, revealing the mysteries of space and the Earth's atmosphere. Carruther patented the "Image Converter which detect electromagnetic radiation in short wavelengths.
Maxwell-LennonMae Jemison, Astronaut & Doctor
Mae C. Jemison is the first African American woman to travel in space, she is also a physician, professor and entrepreneur. She joined the space program after she completed her medical degree, maintained a general practice and serves in the peace corps. After working at NASA from 1987-1993, Jemison founded Jemison Group, Inc., which developed a satellite-based telecommunications system to improve healthcare delivery in developing nations..
Bryant-Yao-GQRAngela Benton, Tech Entrepreneur
Fast Company named Angela Benton one of their Most Influential Women in Technology in 2019. And, just three years prior to the award, she co-founded Black Web 2.0 to highlight excepiotnal innovation and talent "of Blacks in the technology and new media industries. After working as a web designer, creative director, and front end web developer, Benton then launched NewMe a platform that helps minority and women entrepreneurs create successful businesses. The online platform has helped entrepreneurs raise more than $20+MM in venture capital funding.
Bryant-Yao-GQR Katherine G. Johnson, Physicist and Mathematician
One of NASA's human 'computers,' Katherine G. Johnson, physicist and mathematician, performed the complex calculations that enabled humans to achieve space flight successfully.
Bryant-Yao-GQRGeorge Washington Carver, Scientist
Born into slavery, Carver became one of the most prominent scientists and inventors of his time. He invented over 100 products using one major crop-the peanut- including dyes, plastics and gasoline.
Bryant-Yao-GQRMark Dean, Inventor & Computer Programmer
Mark Dean joined IBM in 1980 and an engineer while he worked to received his master's degree in Electrical Engineering from Florida Atlantic Univerity. Dean quickly became a significant player at IBM. Eventually, he held three of the company's nine original patents. Also, his team developed the original home computer. He worked closely with Dennis Moeller to develop the Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) systems bus, which allowed other devices to connect to a PC.


While this list highlights a small fraction of black STEM leaders, many other visionaries remain “hidden figures” who have made a massive impact in our world today. This month, and year-round, we celebrate the contributions of all these individuals.


Read Also: Embrace Diversity & Inclusion: The Top D&I Must-Reads



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