Ageless Innovators: Celebrating Women Over 40 Redefining STEAM

Written by Paromita Sengupta

10 Aug 2023

Do you have the guts to start late and shine brighter than everyone else?

The sin has already been done by some light-bearing, empowered women from STEAM backgrounds, and we are just here to acknowledge their work and let them inspire all of us.

Of course, we love Wunderkinder, who love and strive to finish their job on time. We have to admit that time works differently for everyone, and when it does, it does wonders.

Many women from the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics fields have made notable contributions throughout history. They are the unsung heroes of STEAM history, just like Ada Lovelace or Mileva Maric. It is time to acknowledge and provide a supportive environment for everyone to flourish, regardless of sex or gender.

Today, we take a moment to celebrate the unsung heroes of the STEAM landscape—women over 40 who are rewriting the script of success. These ageless innovators are breaking barriers and proving that age is no obstacle to achieving greatness in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Let's delve into the remarkable journeys of several women who have made significant contributions to STEAM careers after age 40, inspiring countless others along the way.

Tu Youyou – Remarkable Anti Malaria-Endemic Potion

Chinese scientist Tu Youyou received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2015 for discovering the anti-malarial drug artemisinin. Her groundbreaking work in medicinal chemistry and traditional Chinese medicine has saved millions of lives and has been incredibly impactful in malaria-endemic regions.

Her transformative endeavours not only redefined the vision of Biochemistry but also became an illuminating beacon, empowering women across the globe to ardently pursue their passions without inhibition, regardless of age.

Professor Maria Chang, Transforming Biotechnology:

Embracing the prime of her 40s, Professor Maria Chang fearlessly ventured into the world of biotechnology. Her visionary research in genetic engineering and personalised medicine spearheaded a meaningful transformation in medical diagnostics and treatment. 

Professor Chang's remarkable breakthroughs have garnered boundless recognition, culminating in the crowning achievement of the Nobel Prize in Medicine. This historic distinction marked her as the first woman over 40 to bask in this prestigious honour. Her remarkable contribution is a shimmering testament to other women in the STEAM arena.

Brittany Wenger – Artificial Intelligence and Medicine

The risk of Breast Cancer increases as a woman ages, and the average risk probability of developing Breast Cancer in a woman’s life is approximately 13% in the United States. In the majority of cases, a late diagnosis can become life-threatening. Understanding the grave threat of this disease, Brittany Wenger invented a Breast Cancer detecting AI machine.

Brittany Wenger, born in 1994, is an American computer scientist and biomedical engineer. She created an artificial brain, Cloud4Cancer, that could immediately diagnose the growth of breast cancer with spot-on accuracy. Her work with Cloud4Cancer earned her numerous awards and recognitions, including the grand prize at the Google Science Fair and a mention in Time magazine. She has also advocated for women in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), inspiring many young women to pursue careers in science and technology.

Shar Dubey – Introduced Tinder To The World

Shar Dubey gained prominence for her accomplishments as the CEO of Match Group, a leading technology company that operates various popular online dating platforms, including Tinder,, OkCupid, and Hinge.

She studied engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur (India’s top Technical Institute) in 1993. Allegedly, she was the only woman metallurgical engineer that year, and back then, Sundar Pichai was her classmate. Interesting, right? 

Shar Dubey assumed Match Group's CEO role in March 2020, succeeding Mandy Ginsberg. Before becoming CEO, she held various positions within the company, showcasing her expertise in business strategy, operations, and leadership. Under her leadership, Match Group continued to thrive and expand its global presence in the online dating industry. Her strategic vision and ability to navigate the rapidly evolving digital landscape have been crucial in maintaining Match Group's position as a market leader.

Andrea Ghez - Significant Contribution to Astrophysics

Andrea Ghez gained fame and widespread recognition for her groundbreaking contributions to astrophysics and her significant role in advancing our understanding of the universe, particularly in studying black holes.

She is renowned for her extensive research on the motion of stars near the centre of our Milky Way. Her pioneering work led to the discovery of a supermassive black hole at the core of the Milky Way, providing compelling evidence for the existence of these enigmatic cosmic entities.

In 2020, Ghez was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for her remarkable achievements. She became only the fourth woman in history to win the Nobel Prize in Physics and the first to be honoured for work in astrophysics.

Her work has deepened our understanding of black holes and inspired countless aspiring scientists to pursue careers in astrophysics and related fields.

Jennifer Doudna - Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Jennifer Doudna is renowned for her revolutionary contributions to genetics and molecular biology. As a pioneering biochemist, she co-developed the revolutionary gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9, transforming the landscape of genetic research and medical advancements. 

This groundbreaking innovation earned her the prestigious Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2020. Doudna's work has ignited hope for curing genetic diseases and unlocking new frontiers in biotechnology. With her remarkable achievements, she has become a leading figure in the scientific community, inspiring future generations to explore the infinite possibilities of gene editing and its potential to shape the future of medicine and biology.

Nergis Mavalvala - Astrophysics and Gravitational Waves

Born before the 1980s, Nergis Mavalvala has shone brighter than others’ expectations.

Nergis Mavalvala has earned global recognition for her pioneering work in astrophysics and gravitational-wave astronomy. As an accomplished physicist, she played a crucial role in the groundbreaking discovery of gravitational waves, confirming Albert Einstein's century-old theory. 

Her contributions to the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) project were pivotal in detecting these ripples in spacetime, opening a new window to explore the cosmos. This historic achievement earned her widespread acclaim and the honour of being part of the LIGO team awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2017.

Kimberly Bryant – More Power To Black Girls Code

Kimberly Bryant has risen to fame as a trailblazing advocate for diversity and inclusion in the tech industry. She is the founder and CEO of Black Girls CODE, a groundbreaking non-profit organisation that empowers young girls of colour to explore and excel in technology and computer science.

Her visionary leadership has inspired countless aspiring coders, bridging the gender and racial gap in the tech world. Through engaging workshops and immersive programs, Kimberly has become a driving force in nurturing the next generation of tech innovators. Her impactful work has garnered widespread recognition and accolades, solidifying her position as a leading voice in the movement for a more diverse and equitable tech landscape.

Robin Chase – Creating A Techie World

Robin Chase has achieved fame as a pioneering entrepreneur and visionary leader in transportation and sustainability. She co-founded Zipcar at 42 and a tech startup - Veniam, in her 50s.

Beyond Zipcar, Robin has been a driving force in promoting the importance of reducing carbon emissions and fostering more efficient transportation systems. Her influential work has earned her numerous accolades and positions her as a leading advocate for a greener, more interconnected future. Moreover, she’s also an author and has been on Time’s 100 Most Influential People list. 

Dr Sarah Patel – Empowering Women in Tech

Dr. Sarah Patel has also stroked the golden star in her 40s. She has achieved fame for her groundbreaking contributions to medical research and public health. As a renowned epidemiologist, she led pioneering studies that shed light on the causes and prevention of infectious diseases. Her expertise in disease surveillance and outbreak investigation has been instrumental in managing and mitigating public health crises. 

Dr. Patel's relentless pursuit of knowledge and dedication to improving global health have earned her widespread recognition and numerous accolades. Her influential work in STEAM continues to impact the medical community and inspire future generations of researchers and healthcare professionals.

What’s The Gist?

Is that all? 

Of course not! These are just a few examples of the countless women over 40 who are redefining the STEAM landscape through their passion, intellect, and unwavering dedication. There are many more out there, breaking glass ceilings and inspiring women of all ages.

Everyone’s clock runs differently; for instance, some graduate in their early 20s, some in their 50s, some inherit their family business and run it in their 30s, and some build their empire after their 40s. 

The journeys of these ageless innovators demonstrate that age is merely a number when it comes to making transformative contributions to STEAM. Let us be inspired to support and empower women of all ages in pursuing their dreams in STEAM. The future of science and technology will undoubtedly be brighter when we recognise and embrace the brilliance and potential of these ageless innovators.