WEST Wisdom Blog

AAPI Women in STEM You Should Know About

Posted by Courtney Cyron on May 30, 2023 12:56:11 PM

The month of May celebrates Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. WEST's 2022-2023 annual theme is "Strong Women, Strong Science, Strong World," and these women are a perfect example that science knows no geographic or gender-based bounds. Women of Asian and Pacific Islander descent have made, and are currently making huge strides in their fields of study, and are part of the development and discoveries that are constantly changing our world for the better. These are just a few of the innumerable women of Asian or Pacific Islander heritage that have made a huge impact on our world. 

Kalpana Chawla

Kalpana Chawla was the first Indian-born woman in space. She holds a Bachelor of Science 1-1 degree in aeronautical engineering from Punjab Engineering College, India, and a Master of Science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas, and a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from the University of Colorado. Chawla served as the mission specialist for the Columbia shuttle. Sadly, on February 3, 2003, a piece of insulation broke and damaged the craft’s wing, causing the shuttle to break apart while reentering the atmosphere. All crew aboard the shuttle perished. Her accomplishments and inspirational career live on as an example to other girls and women that you can dream big, and achieve those dreams. 


Mai Nguyen

Mai Nguyen is a farmer and farmer organizer in California. Mai started her career studying2-2 atmosphere and soil in Berkley, CA, and documenting environmental damage. Her research took place in California, Alaska, and several areas of Southeast Asia. She is the co-founder of the Asian American Farmers Alliance, a member of the Farmer Justice Collaborative which in 2017 passed a groundbreaking farmer equity act in California. In a state that still grows much of the average American's diet, environmentally conscious farmers, like Mai, that strive to create the opportunity for farmers of all backgrounds to be able to fairly grow produce for their communities are integral in creating a stronger world. 


Josephine Santiago-Bond

Josephine Santiago-Bond is a Filipina-American who leads NASA’s Advanced Engineering3-2 Development Branch. After completing undergraduate studies in engineering, she moved to the U.S. to pursue a master’s degree in electrical engineering at South Dakota State University and secured a summer internship at the John F. Kennedy Space Center, one of NASA’s sites. Upon completing her degree, she secured a full-time position with NASA. She rose through the ranks to reach her current position. Josephine is the perfect example of strong women, using strong science, to constantly expand our worldview and build the teams that will make world-changing discoveries. 


Anna Mani

Anna Mani was an Indian meteorologist who contributed significantly to the understanding of 4 solar radiation, ozone, and wind energy by developing a wide range of measurement tools. One of India’s pioneering female scientists, Mani excelled in the male-dominated area of meteorology and became the Deputy Director-General of the India Meteorological Department. She also held several important positions in the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Mani’s early research on the spectroscopy of diamonds and rubies at the Indian Institute of Science resulted in five research papers and a Ph.D. dissertation. While she was not awarded her Ph.D. because she had not yet completed her master's degree, she founded a company that manufactured ozone and radiation measuring devices that exponentially expanded our understanding of the weather. 


These are just a few of the women of Asian and Pacific Islander descent that have made a huge impact on the strong science we use every day. These women have expanded our worldview from the depths of the earth all the way to far reaches of the stars, and are proof that not only do women belong in STEM careers, but Asian and Pacific Islander women belong in STEM careers. Science doesn't care where you come from, but whether you're willing to ask the big questions and devote your energy to chasing the answers in order to better the world around you. 

Topics: Leadership, Gender Balance, STEM, Gender Balance, Community, Inspiration, Career Path, Gender Pay Gap, Confidence, Career Possibilities, Diversity, D&I, Gender Parity, Hiring Women in STEM

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