8 women who are breaking biases
This International Women’s Day, educate yourself on women in science and leadership roles. This is where to start.
We want to shine a spotlight on female sustainability leaders, neuroscientists and mental health professionals who have broken barriers. Women have long been leaders in this space, but their leadership has often been overlooked.
Here are eight women who are breaking down biases and inspiring us in the process.
Dr Lisa Mosconi
Dr Lisa Mosconi is Director of the Women’s Brain Initiative and Associate Director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medical College. And if that weren’t enough, she’s also a member of the faculty at NYU. It’s quite the CV.
Her 2020 book The XX Brain examines the ways in which women’s physiology has largely been ignored over decades of neuroscience—most research is carried out on male brains, even though two-thirds of Alzheimer’s patients are women.
Dr Tara Swart
Medical doctor, neuroscientist, Oxford alumnus, MIT lecturer, best-selling author—the list goes on. And on top of all that, Dr Tara Swart is also the Chief Science Officer at Heights. With a deep passion for brain health, she helped to develop the Smart Supplement, drawing on expertise from both the University of Oxford, and her PhD in Neuropharmacology from King’s College, London. In her book, The Source, she explores the science and spirituality of a healthy brain, putting together a guide on how to harness its power in your daily life.
As a Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, Sarah-Jayne Blakemore works on the cutting edge of new research into the brain. She’s also received more awards than we can list here (take a look at her department page for an idea).
Her field of expertise is the adolescent brain, and how our brain development affects behaviour in teenagers. It’s the topic of her book, Inventing Ourselves: The Secret Life of the Adolescent Brain, in which she displays a remarkable ability to explain complex scientific concepts in an approachable way. That’s not always the case in the world of scientific literature.
Despite working as a full-time PhD student in Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, focusing on neurodegenerative disease diagnosis, Tomi Akingbade still found the time to start the Black Women in Science Network.
Black women face particular pressures both inside and outside the lab, and the Network aims to provide a safe space for black women to come together and provide advice and support in their careers.
A world-renowned psychotherapist, Esther Perel has long questioned orthodox romance, relationships, and sex. She talks frankly about intimacy and infidelity, with a refreshing empathy and humour.
Her books, including her 2006 debut Mating in Captivity, have been translated into 30 languages (she speaks nine herself), and her TEDx talks have been watched over 30 million times. She also produces and hosts the award-winning podcast Where Should We Begin?
Menopause has been overlooked as a topic of research for decades, and Maisie Hill is on a mission to change that. Hill came to prominence in 2019 with her best-selling book, Period Power, but prior to that she had been working as a menstrual health coach and doula for 15 years.
After the success of Period Power, Hill went on to publish Perimenopause Power, and has become a leading voice in the movement to increase funding and encourage research into the perimenopause.
Although she was born in the USA, Amity Reed has lived in the UK for 20 years, and worked as a midwife in the NHS for over a decade. Her book, Overdue: Birth, burnout and a blueprint for a better NHS, tackles systemic issues in maternity wards, where overworking and underfunding are both givens, and provides direction on potential solutions. Reed has also been a vocal campaigner for women’s health and reproductive rights, and has worked extensively with AIMS and Doula UK.
Tiara Starks founded the Society for Black Brain and Behavioural Scientists in 2014, with the aim to promote the presence and success of Black scientists in the fields, and to foster the exchange of scientific innovation. She’s still the President of the Society, but also works as a project coordinator at Columbia University in New York, using cognitive neuroscience methods, including neuroimaging, to understand racial disparities in Alzheimer’s disease.