5 Leading Saudi Women in STEM
September 23 marks Saudi Arabia's National Day, a perfect moment for the Kingdom to reflect on the many accomplishments and contributions made by its people, particularly by Saudi female experts in the field of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Here are five pioneers who have left and continue to leave their mark in their respective fields.
Adah Almutairi is a woman who indeed wears many hats, taking on the role of entrepreneur, inventor, processor, and scholar. As a Saudi citizen living between the American states of Oregon and California, she graduated with a bachelor's degree in chemistry in 2000, PhD in materials chemistry in 2005, and completed her Postdoctoral Studies in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering in 2008. This would kick-start her career in the fields of pharmaceutical chemistry, and nano engineering. Almutairi's works and research touch on nanomedicine, nanotechnology, and chemistry. In addition, she had made several academic contributions, and filed ten patents focusing on therapy, drug delivery systems, and fat removal. Recognizing her accomplishments, her work earned her many awards and honors, which include the NIH director's new innovator Award in 2009, Young Investigator Award at the World Biomaterials Congress in 2012, and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences from Kavli Fellow in 2016.
Dr. Hayat Sindi
For being the first Saudi woman to obtain a PhD in biotechnology, and appointed UNESCO goodwill ambassador, Dr. Hayat Sindi is an inspiration to women and men across the region. She is a medical scientist and, in addition, the co-founder of Diagnostics For All, an NGO that provides healthcare for people living in rural and impoverished areas. She was also one of the first female members of the Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia.
Dr. Fatmah Boathman
As another first in the Kingdom, Dr. Fathman Boathman made headlines by becoming the region's first woman to obtain a PhD in artificial intelligence (AI). While studying at the University of Arizona, she was introduced to AI and grew fascinated with the concept. It was then she pursued her PhD at the School of Computing and Engineering at the University of Huddersfield, in the United Kingdom, with her dissertation entitled "Phonology-Based Automatic Speech Recognition for Arabic.” Dr. Boathman is currently an Assistant Professor of Artificial Intelligent (AI) at King Abdulaziz University (KAU) in Jeddah, with nine trophies, a gold medal, and several letters of recognition for her input under her belt. In the future, she hopes to be able to implement AI in solving poverty and economic development.
Dr. Samia Al-Amoudi
Dr. Samia Al-Amoudi is a pioneer in breast cancer research in the Kingdom. Besides being a consultant obstetrician and gynecologist, she is also the head of the Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Al-Amoudi Centre of Excellence in breast cancer. In fact, she dedicates her time bringing awareness to breast cancer, having herself been diagnosed with the disease in April 2006. She underwent chemotherapy and had written extensively on her endeavors in the Al Madinah newspaper, and appeared on a daily TV show. In addition, Dr. Al-Amoudi was listed number 5 on the Power 100 list of the world’s most influential Arabs in 2010 and 2012.
Noura Saud Al-Tuwaim
Female engineers play an important role in the Kingdom’s “great scientific achievement,” to quote Noura Saud Al-Tuwaim, and when it comes to the inspiring lead at the optic department, that truly applies at the National Satellite Technology Center where she currently works. In line with Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia is putting itself on the map as a key player in manufacturing satellite technology in the Gulf region. Earlier in 2021, King AbdulAziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), and King Saud University (KSU) successfully launched their own small-scale satellites into orbit, hence testing the concept of downsizing satellites for specific purposes. “The high rate of participation of young talents in the space sector reflects the wise Saudi leadership’s interest in empowering the nation’s women," Al-Tuwaim was quoted as saying by Arab News. Al-Tuwaim currently works with the development teams of the Kingdom's two satellites. She also participated in the Saudi Sat 5A/5B project, which successfully launched in 2018.