These 6 Women Are Currently Pioneering Their Fields in Academia

In countries across the world, the number of female faculty in academia is continuing to rise. As of some of the latest figures, “women now hold 49 percent of total faculty positions” in the United States. While there are still improvements needed in terms of pay equality and selecting more women for tenured jobs, hundreds of women are leading the way in terms of innovation and discovery in their chosen fields. From life saving technologies to groundbreaking research, it is crucial to learn more about how female faculty members are changing the world of academia for the long-term.

Explore some of the exciting ways that just six of these pioneering women are influencing their chosen fields of study and research.

Sangeeta Bhatia (MIT – Biomedical Engineering)

Conquering student loan debt and earning exceptional grades are two of the biggest achievements that can be accomplished in college and graduate school. Once one has successfully paid off student loan debt, the next biggest achievement in academia is to become a leader as a professor and as a researcher. Sangeeta Bhatia M.D., Ph.D is one of the select few who has achieved this honor. She serves as a biomedical researcher and professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Her specialty is focused on working with microtechnology and nanotechnology to heal tissues in humans. Thanks to her discoveries and inventions, Bhatia has earned numerous honors. She was awarded the Lemelson-MIT Prize, named as a scientist to watch by The Scientist, and given the Heinz Medal.

Dr. Elizabeth Diller (Princeton University – Architecture)

Another one of today’s top female professors is Dr. Elizabeth Diller. Dr. Diller works at Princeton University as a professor of architectural design. In addition to teaching at the university, and acting as an advisor, she is one of the founding owners of the design studio Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R). One of her most notable achievements is turning an unused rail system into a massive public park in New York City. Because of her transformative architectural work with her design studio, and in teaching, Dr. Diller has earned many prestigious awards.  Her top accolade came back in 2009, when Time (magazine) named her as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World.”

Laura Carstensen (Stanford University – Public Policy/Psychology)

In the field of psychology and public policy, Laura Carstensen stands out above the rest. She serves as a professor in both public policy and psychology at Stanford University, and works as the Director of the Stanford Center on Longevity. The focus of her work and research relates to improving the quality of life for older individuals. In addition to writing a book about well-being and longevity, she was inducted into the National Academy of Medicine in 2016, and won the Kleemeier Award from the Gerontological Society of America.

Amy Cuddy (Harvard University – Business Administration)

Amy Cuddy earned her doctorate degree in Psychology from Princeton University. Since that time, she has pioneered studies in social psychology. Her most notable research was presented at a 2012 TED talk regarding what is known as “power posing.” This technique is focused on modeling “powerful” body postures to enhance one’s self-confidence before interviews, meetings, and other important occasions. Despite some criticism about the study, she and her supporters have stood by the research. Additionally, as of early 2018, her TED talk garnered 46 million views (making it the second most viewed TED talk of all time).

Rosalind W. Picard (MIT – Electrical Engineering)

Over the course of her career, Rosalind W. Picard has authored/co-authored hundreds of scholarly articles, invented multiple patented devices, served on science and engineering committees, and consulted with tech companies around the globe. She now serves as the founder and director of the Affective Computing Research Group at MIT. Her work has had major applications for those suffering from various conditions, such as PTSD and autism. In 2015, she was honored as one of CNN’s seven “Tech SuperHeros to Watch.”

Sarah Bergbreiter (Carnegie Mellon University – Mechanical Engineering)

Now serving as a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, Sarah Bergbreiter has already achieved numerous accolades in her career. She ran the Maryland Microrobotics Laboratory at the University of Maryland, gave a TED talk, and has developed important technologies (with the goal of using them in medicine). In 2008, she received the prestigiousDARPA Young Faculty Award. In 2013, she followed this honor up by winning the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). Based on what she has already achieved, there is no doubt that she will continue to make waves in the science community in years to come.

In subjects across disciplines, women are leading initiatives that are changing the lives of millions. From the way we age, to the structures that contribute value to our communities, to the advanced technologies that enhance health and medicine, women in academia are improving the quality of life for everyone.