Women have contributed a great deal to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), but only account for about 33% of researchers. Despite the challenges they face, women scientists and engineers around the globe are making major strides in defeating the COVID-19 pandemic. About 70% of the world’s health care workers are women.

According to the World Economic Forum, some of the most influential women scientists and engineers at the frontlines of the pandemic include:

Dr. Özlem Türeci: Dr. Türeci and her husband, Dr Ugur Sahin, are co-founders of the German biotechnology company BioNTech. The company collaborated with drugmaker Pfizer to develop the first RNA-based COVID-19 vaccine to be approved, which is 90% effective against the virus. 

Dr. Soumya Swaminathan: One of India’s top public health figures, Dr. Swaminathan is the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Chief Scientist. A paediatrician, she is renowned for her revolutionary research into tuberculosis. As WHO chief scientist, she is organizing global efforts to develop vaccines.  

Ramida Juengpaisal: Only 24 years old, Ramida Juengpaisal is a digital product designer and front-end developer at 5LAB in Thailand. She helped build a platform that tracks COVID-19 cases in Bangkok. The platform has been instrumental in helping stave off the virus in the city. 

Professor Sarah Gilbert: The Oxford Project Lead for the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, Prof. Gilbert has been instrumental in the race to develop one of the first approved vaccines. She is now working to create a booster vaccine that can protect against a COVID-19 variant that evolved in South Africa. 

Somaya Faruqi: A roboticist in Afghanistan, Faruqi led an all female robotics team to build an affordable ventilator that is easy to transport. The team created the ventilator from used car parts.

Neema Kaseje: Kaseje is founder of Kenya-based Surgical Systems Research Group, an organization that leverages young people, technology and community health care workers to make healthcare more accessible and slow the spread of COVID-19 in the African nation. 

Professor Devi Sridhar: Originally from the United States, Dr. Sridhar is a public health researcher and top authority of the Covid-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom. She first became known for her research into the global response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. 

Dr. Anggia Prasetyoputri: Last year, L’Oréal Indonesia awarded Dr. Prasetyoputri the L’Oréal-UNESCO National Fellowship For Women in Science (FWIS). She won the fellowship for  her research into finding an easy way to identify bacterial infections in Covid-19 patients using swab sample sequencing, which helps health professionals prescribe remedies to cure them. 

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