In honor of Black History Month, we wanted to recognize a Black woman in STEM who has and is continuing to break the glass ceiling. Rather than putting a spotlight on someone already commonly known in Black History or even American History, we wanted to highlight someone not on most people's radars.
Just this past October, I had the opportunity to attend the 22nd annual Grace Hopper Celebration. The conference is named after Grace Hopper, the computer scientist who invented the first compiler for computer programming languages, and is the largest gathering of women in computing in the world! At the conference I had the privilege of hearing several distinguished women in computing speak. One of them was a woman by the name of Latanya Sweeney.
"Latanya is a professor of government and technology in residence at Harvard University. She’s also the Editor-in-Chief of Technology Science and the director and founder of the Data Privacy Lab. She earned her Ph.D. in computer science from MIT in 2001, being the first black woman to do so, and her undergraduate degree in computer science from Harvard University. She is a former Chief Technology Officer at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, and a Distinguished Career Professor of Computer Science, Technology and Policy at Carnegie Mellon University.
Latanya holds three patents, has authored more than 100 academic publications, and her work is explicitly cited in two U.S. regulations, including the U.S. federal medical privacy regulation (known as HIPAA). She is a recipient of the prestigious Louis D. Brandeis Privacy Award and the American
Psychiatric Association’s Privacy Advocacy Award. She is an elected fellow of the American College of
Medical Informatics and has testified before government bodies worldwide. Latanya creates and
uses technology to assess and solve societal, political and governance problems, and teaches others how
to do the same."