5 women scientists and technologists from India that are making the country proud

Here are five incredible women scientists and technologists from India who are making the nation proud.

Science and Technology is a field historically dominated by men, with a huge disparity in the number of jobs, salaries, and positions offered to women who are as capable as the men. There are however pioneering women who have shattered the glass ceiling and established their presence in the field. Here are five incredible women scientists and technologists from India who are making the nation proud.

Tessy Thomas

APJ Abdul Kalam was known as the "Missile Man of India", Tessy Thomas is known as the "Missile Woman of India." She is one of the country's leading experts in ballistic missiles and is the project director for the Agni-IV missile at the Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). She is the first woman to lead a missile team in India, and is also known as "Agniputri." She has worked on the Agni missile right from the inception, and has designed guidance scheme for long range missiles which is used in all Agni missiles.


Her career at DRDO has lasted over 24 years, and during that time, Thomas has contributed to Guidance Control, Inertial Navigation, Trajectory Simulation and Mission Design. She is also the project director for the long range Agni-V missile, and the Technology Director for Mission Design and System Analysis Group of Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL), a DRDO entity.  Thomas is a life member of the Astronomical Society of India. Thomas is from southern Kerala, and grew up in an environment where both men and women were equally encouraged to study.

Padmasree Warrior

Padmasree Warrior was born in Vijaywada, and went on to study at the Indian Institute of Technology (Delhi) and then Cornell University. She is the US CEO of Nio, an autonomous electric car company that was previously called NextEV. Warrior has been called the "Queen of the Electric Car Biz" by Fortune, and was listed as one of the most powerful women in the world by Forbes, in 2014. Warrior is also on the board of directors at Microsoft.

Padmasree Warrior. Image by © Tobias Hase/dpa/Corbis

Padmasree Warrior. Image by © Tobias Hase/dpa/Corbis

For 23 years, Warrior worked for Motorola. She served in various senior executive positions at Motorola, including the Chief Technology Officer of the Semiconductor Products Sector. While she was the CTO at Motorola, the company was awarded the 2004 US National Medal of Technology by the then President George W. Bush. In 2007, Warrior left Motorola and joined Cisco as CTO. Warrior contributed to increasing the influence of Cisco by overseeing a series of acquisitions during her tenure at the company.

Ruchi Sanghvi

Ruchi Sanghvi was the first woman engineer to be hired by Facebook. Sanghvi was educated at Cernegie Mellon University, with a bachelors and masters degree in Electrical Computer Engineering. Sanghvi went on to work at Oracle for a short period of time. She joined Facebook in 2005, and moved from Engineering to Project Manager within a year. At Facebook, she was instrumental in the introduction of News Feed. She worked on privacy, user engagement and the Facebook platform.

Image: Ruchi Sanghvi

Ruchi Sanghvi. Image: Ruchi Sanghvi

Sanghvi left Facebook in 2010 and founded Cove, a technological solution for organisations that allowed employees to communicate and collaborate. Cove was acquired by Dropbox, and Sanghvi is now the Vice President of Operations at Dropbox. Sanghvi has investments in a number of promising startups, including Nervana, Hike, Path, Asana and Vamo. Sanghvi was raised in Pune, and intended to join her father's business while growing up.

Priyamvada Natarajan

Priyamvada Natarajan was born in Coimbatore to Academic parents and went on to become a Professor of Astronomy and Physics at Yale University. As an astrophysicist, Natarajan has mapped dark energy and dark matter. Her interests are in cosmology, gravitational lensing and black hole physics. Natarajan studies the way light bends in its long journey across the universe, to create maps on the distribution of dark matter. She also studies how black holes accumalate mass during their lifetimes.

Priyamvada Natarajan. Image: Yale Astronomy Department / Build Pictures

Priyamvada Natarajan. Image: Yale Astronomy Department / Build Pictures

Natarajan has demonstrated that there is an upper limit of how massive black holes can get, as they begin to stunt their own growth eventually. Natarajan is on the advisory board of NOVA ScienceNow, an organisation dedicated to the dissemination of scientific knowledge to the general public. She has written a book for the general public, titled Mapping the Heavens: The Radical Scientific Ideas That Reveal the Cosmos, which is published by the Yale University Press.

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

Kiran Muzumdar-Shaw is the founder of India's biggest biotechnology firm, Biocon, which she created at the age of 25 in a garage. She is considered as a pioneer in the field of biotechnology in India. In 2010, Muzumdar-Shaw was named by Time as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, and is on the Forbes global power list as one of the 100 most powerful women in the world. She is also an independent director of the Indian software giant, Infosys.


Kiran Muzamdar-Shaw. Image: Infosys.

She has received several national and international awards for her contributions to research, innovation and affordable healthcare. One of her primary concerns is tackling the problem of cancer, and has established a 1,400-bed Mazumdar-Shaw Cancer Center in Bengaluru. The Mazumdar Shaw Center for Translational Research is a non profit organisation dedicated to finding out cutting edge treatments for a wide range of human diseases. Every year, she provides free health insurance coverage to 100,000 Indian villagers.

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