Now more than ever, it is undeniable how integral science and research have become to public health. Nationwide, doctors, scientists and experts are working around the clock to find the most up-to-date and reliable information to prevent and stop the spread of Covid-19.
Here are five must-know women who are shattering ceilings, making groundbreaking discoveries, and spreading public awareness during the global pandemic.
Joy Buolamwini is the founder of the Algorithmic Justice League (AJL), a computer scientist and an expert in artificial intelligence bias. Four years ago, when Buolamwini was a graduate student at MIT’s Media Lab, she began looking into the racial and gender disparities in commercially-available facial recognition technologies. Her research culminated in two groundbreaking, peer-reviewed studies, published in 2018 and 2019, that revealed how systems used by Amazon, IBM, Microsoft and others were unable to classify darker female faces as accurately as those of white men—essentially shattering the myth of machine neutrality.
Buolamwini’s research helped persuade these companies to put a hold on facial recognition technology until federal regulations were passed. Through her nonprofit AJL, she has testified before lawmakers at the federal, state and local levels about the dangers of using facial recognition technologies with no oversight.
In the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd, Buolamwini has called for a complete halt to police using such facial surveillance and is providing activists with resources and tools to demand regulation.
It’s not easy to go up against some of the biggest tech companies when you know they can deploy all of their resources against you. I am still very aware that I am a young Black woman in America. And in the field of AI, the people I was aiming to evaluate held all the purse strings. – Joy Buolamwini
Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett
Dr. Corbett is a viral immunologist and research fellow in the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). She went viral on social media this spring after news broke that Dr. Corbett, a Black female scientist, was leading the team of researchers working on a Covid-19 vaccine at the NIH.
Dr. Corbett’s passion for science stems from her summer break during high school, when she began working in a chemistry lab at the University of North Carolina. After being paired with Black grad student and future mentor, Albert Russell, she was able to see how it was possible for her to impact science through representation. Dr. Corbett has stressed the importance of mentors and advocates, crediting her boss, Dr. Barney Graham,