When I joined the College of Engineering, Guindy, India, in 1966, I was one of a handful of women in a class of hundreds of men. I was singularly focused on getting an engineering education, and it never occurred to me that I didn’t belong there. I did not pause to question what it was like for women who entered the engineering field long before me and paved the way for me. Today, my alma mater boasts an almost 50/50 split of men and women.
I learned all about the women who came before me when researching and writing my book Roots and Wings. Their inspirational life stories demonstrate academic excellence, courage, perseverance, and resilience.
They broke many biases against women to do what they set out to do in their lives.
Let us celebrate these trailblazers today on # InternationalWomen’sDay.
Narayani graduated from College of Engineering, Guindy (CEG), Chennai, India, in 1962 with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. She received a Ph.D. in structural engineering from Imperial College, London, in 1971. She has the honor of being the first woman from CEG to receive a doctorate.
Kanchana’s father walked out on her family when she was eight months old. Her mother, Valli, brought her up with help from Kanchana’s grandmother. Tragedy struck again—Valli was diagnosed with cancer and underwent chemo and radiation treatments. The grandmother became the single breadwinner for the family, working as a gardener. Kanchana studied hard, won a scholarship to a prestigious government engineering college. The scholarship includes a laptop which she couldn’t have afforded otherwise.