By Randy Mancilla & Arlene Sanchez
When asked to think about pioneers of the modern age many people will think of Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Jeff Bezos. Although there are many women influencing our modern society, the spotlight is often taken by the three richest men, so we decided to highlight some contemporary females who are also working to change the world. While this list is not exhaustive, these eight women should definitely be on your radar.
Stem cell researcher Ann Tsukamoto made a breakthrough when it came to cancer research in the 1990s. In 1991, Tsukamoto and her team were the first to locate and separate blood stem cells. Finding the source and being able to separate them was a major scientific advancement when it comes to cancer treatment. Being able to stop cancerous blood cells from creating more cancerous blood cells is a life-changing achievement that can soon benefit everyone in the world with cancer.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a Democratic U.S. Representative for New York. Her legislation was co-sponsoring the Green New Deal resolution. The resolution plans a ten-year national mobilization, just like FDR’s New Deal, whose goal is to put millions to work in good-paying union jobs to repair the nation’s infrastructure, reduce air and water pollution, and fight the intertwined economic, social, racial and climate crises that’s crippling the country. Ocasio-Cortez continuously redefines what it means to be a politician in America with her passion.
Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier
American biochemist Jennifer Doudna and French microbiologist Emmanuelle Charpentier invented the CRISPR/Cas9 system. This technology enables scientists and medical researchers to edit parts of the human genome by altering sections of DNA. This discovery won the two female scientists the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2020. Doudna and Charpentier’s technology could potentially aid in curing genetic diseases.
Margaret Busby was Britain’s youngest and first Black book publisher when she co-founded the publishing company called Allison and Busby. In 2019, she published “The New Daughters of Africa,” an anthology that collects works by more than 200 women of African descent. She was given the title Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2021 for her services to publishing. She has won many awards as well as being a judge for the Booker Prize for Fiction. Her goal is to promote the history of female African literature to inspire others.
Rihanna is a singer, actress, and business owner who has been in the entertainment industry since she was 16 years old. She has received nine Grammy awards, 12 Billboard awards, and 13 American Music Awards. Rihanna’s SuperBowl halftime show was also the second most viewed in the last five years. Rihanna is the first black woman to become a billionaire due to her brand FENTY. Although celebrity brands are known to flop this was not the case for Rihanna as her fans and outsiders have loved the beauty brand she has created. Rihanna is also a humanitarian and uses her success to help others. She created two foundations before she was even 20 years old and has been a part of the Global Citizen Project for many years.
Another important female who is making history is Diana Flores. Flores is a Mexican athlete who plays flag football competitively. She started when she was eight and played for Mexico’s national team since 2014 off-and-on international competitions and was also given the role of offensive coordinator for the AFC in 2023. Flores has been selected to be the Ambassador of Flag Football to campaign for its inclusion in the 2028 Olympics.
Director, writer, and producer Ava DuVernay has broken barriers as an African American female director. She was the first female African American to win a primetime Emmy. She was also the first African American female director to be nominated for an Academy Awards for “13th.” DuVernay continually seeks in her works to bring light to marginalized voices, and the world is clearly listening.