Youth Column: The untold stories of success led by South Asian Women

Divya Nag
Deepa Subramaniam
Snigtha Mohanraj

The stories of South Asian American men in technology are on most magazines’ cover. There has been equally significant progress by Indian-American women in similar fields, ranging from being at the pioneer of new medical technologies to leading major technology companies. This is not only limited to settled professionals but young girls have also made tremendous strides in science and technology as next-generation pioneers. The article attempts to highlights the success stories of established entrepreneurs as well as emerging stars within the Indian-American community that demonstrate their work’s social impact and potential for the future.

Divya Nag is the epitome of what passion can achieve in biotechnology. She has been one of the founders of Stem Cell Theranostics, pioneering personalized medicine and drug discovery. The company uses stem cell technology to produce person-specific therapies with a perspective to change the healthcare industry forever. Currently, she works at Apple as its Health Director where she constantly brings something new into the digital health space. Her accolades include being named in Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business, Fortune’s 40 under 40, and Forbes’ 30 under 30. Divya’s educational background in Bioengineering and Medical Anthropology from Stanford University, coupled with her early accomplishments in science fairs, set the stage for her remarkable career.

When we look to leadership examples, Anjali Sud’s rise to prominence in the digital media industry is nothing short of inspiring. As the former CEO of Vimeo, she transformed the company into a leading platform for video creators and businesses. Anjali’s engineering and business acumen have driven Vimeo’s growth and innovation. Recently, she took on the role of CEO at Tubi, the largest free TV and movie streaming service in the U.S. Growing up in Flint, Michigan, Anjali witnessed the profound impact businesses can have on communities. This experience shaped her ambition to make a positive difference through her work. Anjali’s career trajectory, from a toy buyer to leading global video platforms, exemplifies her belief in creating one’s own opportunities and continuously reinventing oneself in a hyper-competitive business.

Finally, Deepa Subramaniam has seamlessly blended technology and social impact throughout her career. Her leadership roles at Hillary for America and the U.S. Digital Service highlight her commitment to using technology for the greater good. Deepa co-founded Wherewithal, a company that advises tech startups and nonprofits on strategy and growth. She also serves on the Board of Directors for DonorDrive and advises the ACLU on digital product and technology efforts. Her previous roles at Kickstarter and Charity: water demonstrate her ability to lead product teams in fast-paced environments, driving innovation and fostering collaboration. Deepa’s career began at Adobe, where she played a pivotal role in developing Creative Cloud. Her dedication to data-driven design and high-velocity team output has made her a respected figure in the tech industry.

These trailblazing women have not only excelled in their respective fields but have also paved the way for future generations in roles outside of the lab. Growing up in households that emphasized focus and hard work, they have managed to break through barriers and set new standards in industries often dominated by men. Inspired by the achievements of trailblazers like Divya, Anjali, and Deepa, a new generation of young South Asian American girls are viewing careers in technology beyond the traditional domains of programming or client support. We are already seeing the change in my generation as highlighted by few examples below.

Veda Murthy
Moitri Santra
Anjali Sud

Veda Murthy, a 13-year-old from Fairfax, Virginia, is a finalist in the 2021 Discovery 3M Young Scientist Challenge. Motivated by a desire to help children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) communicate more effectively during online learning, Veda developed the Cognitive Emotion Interpretation Application (CEIA). This innovative tool aids teachers in interpreting the emotions of ASD children, enhancing their educational experience. Veda’s aspiration to become an epidemiologist reflects her commitment to addressing global health challenges. Her fascination with Artificial Intelligence, which she considers the most impactful invention of the past century, underscores her interest in leveraging technology to improve lives.

Snigtha Mohanraj, an 8th grader hailing from Connecticut, stood out as a finalist in the prestigious 2021 3M Young Scientist Challenge. Her project, the Ferro-Sponge, introduces an innovative solution designed to eliminate microplastics and oil from contaminated water sources. By tackling this critical environmental issue, Snigtha’s work shows promise in significantly reducing water pollution and enhancing public health. Driven by a deep-seated passion for environmental conservation, she aspires to pursue a career as an environmental scientist, aiming to leave a positive impact on our planet from a young age.

Meanwhile, Moitri Santra, at just 11 years old in Florida, made history as the youngest finalist in the same competition. Her project focuses on developing an optimized gel utilizing Chitosan and Citric acid to combat Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) in aquatic ecosystems. This groundbreaking solution aims to prevent the adverse effects of HABs, which often lead to the suffocation and death of marine life. Moitri’s fascination with the modern telescope reflects her curiosity about the universe and her eagerness to explore new frontiers. Her accomplishments as a 7th grader underscore the immense potential of young minds in advancing scientific knowledge and innovation.

These stories serve as powerful examples of what can be achieved by combining the intellectual capacity of many women with a focus on problems that traditional STEM leaders will ignore as focus topics. These individuals have not only broken barriers in fields traditionally dominated by men but have also paved the way for future generations of aspiring scientists and technologists.

These stories highlight the critical importance of fostering an inclusive environment that nurtures curiosity and celebrates success so that many girls can see the possibilities for their own future particularly in communities with traditional career biases. By doing so, we empower the next generation of Indian American women to excel and drive positive change in the world, bringing an improved balance in corporate culture and attitude towards the role of technology in our society.

Sources (for both information and images):


Kavya Bhatia is a student at Convent of the Sacred Heart, NY, NY


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here