2020, celebrating a year of women and girls in science

11 February 2021

2020 was a difficult year, to say the least, but while it  certainly had its challenges, it was also  a time of extraordinary achievements for women thinkers, leaders and activists around the world. Today on International Day of  Women and Girls in Science we wanted to pay respect to just a few incredible girls and women who have made remarkable gains in the world of science, technology, engineering and maths throughout the year of 2020.  

Ananya Ravi

Hailing from our city of Canberra, Ananya Ravi is a bright and intelligent year 11 student who is passionate about science, technology and mathematics. The Radford student, who earlier this year became a recipient of the 2020 Audrey Fagan Young Women’s Enrichment Grant, has been widely recognised in the community for her academic achievements and young women’s leadership. 

The Audrey Fagan grant, which aims to help young women pursue projects and professional development programs, enabled Ananya to participate in a 10-day STEM-focused program hosted by the National Youth Science Forum. As a strong advocate for young women’s participation in STEM, Ananya is just one of many young women destined for a promising and prosperous future in science and engineering. 

Dr  Özlem Türeci 

Whether you know her name or not, Dr Özlem Türeci has played a significant role in the recovery from COVID-19. The German physician has made strides in the science community thanks to her work developing the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine.  

Through her work with MRNA, Dr Turkeci’s work has proved to be highly effective in helping tackle the COVID-19 virus, working alongside her husband, Dr Ugur Sahin. The vaccine, which has an efficiency of 95%, has been recently approved to be rolled out in Australia and other parts of the world, acting as a beacon of hope as we move towards a more safe and prosperous future.  

Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier

In honour of being awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry last year, we would like to pay respect to American biochemist, Jennifer Doudna and French microbiologist, Emmanuelle Charpentier.  

The two women, who are also the first-ever woman duo to share the Nobel Prize, were recently recognised and awarded for their work in discovering a sharp genome editing tool, the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors. Their discovery, which has since revolutionised genetics, will prove highly effective in changing the DNA of animals, plants and micro-organisms. In turn, this will help contribute to innovative cancer therapies and potentially curing inherited diseases.  

Gitanjali Rao

Named the first-ever ‘Kid of the Year’, by Times Magazine in 2020, Gitanjali Rao is a brilliant and bubbly 12-year-old who has made a significant name for herself in the world of science thanks to her passion for helping others and creativity. Using technology to help solve issues ranging from contaminated drinking water to opioid addiction, Gitanjali is a true testament to the phrase, “You’re never too young to change the world”.  

When she’s not too busy thinking of mind-blowing (yet practical) inventions to help her community, Gitanjali is advocating for young people’s mental health. To help address this issue, Gitanjali invented Kindly, an app that uses artificial intelligence to help kids detect cyberbullying in its early stages.  

Frontline, healthcare, and social care workers

Last, but certainly not least, we wanted to give a special shout out to all the health care and social care workers (of whom women make up 70 percent of in Australia) who have dedicated their lives fighting against the coronavirus. Your contribution to the world has been invaluable and we are so grateful for your time, energy and effort in keeping us all safe and healthy.  

At YWCA Canberra, we believe all girls and women deserve a fair and equal future. We empower women to pursue their passions and interests no matter how big or small they may be. If you are a woman or non-binary person with an idea or project that needs funding, keep an eye for our Great Ydeas Small Grants Programopen Monday 22 February. Apply for grants of up to $2500 to pursue your passions and improve our community. Find out more at https://ywca-canberra.org.au/get-involved/great-ydeas/ 

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