February 11, 2022
February 11th marks International Day of Women and Girls in Science, a day dedicated to honoring women’s significant achievements in science. While Nobel laureate, physicist and chemist Marie Curie is renowned for her impact on modern science, there are a host of other women whose contributions cannot be overlooked. Stem cell isolation, the Laserphaco Probe cataract-removal system, Kevlar, the automobile heater and the fold-out bed are just a few of the innovations credited to female scientists.
Despite these ground-breaking contributions, women make up only 27% of the STEM workforce, according to US Census. A few, however, have earned leadership positions at publicly traded companies connected to the STEM fields. Here are just a few of them.
Dr. Lisa Su, President & CEO, Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (Tii:AMD)
Named to the 2021 Fortune Most Powerful Women in Business and the 2021 Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women lists, Su is a veteran leader in the high-tech industry and an expert in semiconductor devices and high-performance processors. With a bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in electrical engineering from the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Su is credited with innovating ways to improve performance by connecting computer chips using copper instead of aluminum. In 2021, she was appointed by President Biden to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. The corporation she oversees continues to outperform. AMD reported fourth record quarterly revenue of $4.8 billion, a 49% year-over-year gain, and record full-year revenue of $16.4 billion, a 68% year-over-year increase.
Adena T. Friedman, President & CEO, Nasdaq, Inc. (Tii:NDAQ)
More than the world’s first electronic stock market, Nasdaq is a global technology company with a diverse offering of data, analytics and software serving the capital markets and other industries. Named CEO in January 2017 (she was previously President & COO), Friedman is credited with significantly shaping Nasdaq’s transformation into a leading global exchange and technology solutions company with operations across six continents. She also played an instrumental role in Nasdaq’s acquisition strategy, overseeing the buyouts of INET, OMX, and the Philadelphia and Boston Exchanges.
Mary T. Barra, Chair and CEO, General Motors Co. (Tii:GM)
Barra, who earned her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the General Motors Institute (now Kettering University), used her STEM-related education throughout much of her career. Prior to becoming CEO in 2014, she served as GM executive vice president, Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain and senior vice president, Global Product Development, where she was responsible for the design, engineering and quality of GM vehicle launches worldwide. Barra has held many other executive engineering and staff positions during her 40-year career at GM. She is currently working to lead the transformation of personal mobility through advanced technologies like connectivity, electrification and autonomous driving.
Phebe N. Novakovic, Chairman & CEO, General Dynamics (Tii:GD)
Though she doesn’t have a STEM education (she earned an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania), Novakovic is nonetheless one of the most powerful women heading companies in STEM fields. A former operations officer for the Central Intelligence Agency and Special Assistant to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense, Novakovic became chairman and CEO of the aerospace and defense company on January 1, 2013. One of the few female executives in the military-industrial space, she was instrumental in General Dynamics’ $9.8 billion acquisition of IT firm CSRA in 2018. The CEO is currently focusing on expanding General Dynamics’ business jet manufacturing capacity to meet increased demand.
Kristin Peck, CEO, Zoetis Inc. (Tii:ZTS)
As the head of the world’s largest producer of medicine and vaccinations for pets and livestock, Peck leads a company with more than 10,000 employees and nearly $7 billion in annual revenues. Recognized as a strong leader who delivers solid performance, Peck was instrumental in Zoetis’ 2013 IPO that raised $2.2 billion. Before joining Zoetis, Peck served as executive vice president, Worldwide Business Development and Innovation and was a member of the Executive Leadership Team at Pfizer Inc. (Tii:PFE), Zoetis’ parent company before going public. Named a Fortune 2020 Businessperson of the Year, Peck’s leadership resulted in Zoetis being named one of Newsweek’s Most Responsible Companies for 2022.
The American Association of University Women (AAUW) reports that only 21% of engineering majors and 19% of computer science majors are women. Hopefully, in time, leaders such as those mentioned here will inspire a new generation of female STEM leaders.
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