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Women’s History Month: Acknowledging Indian American Women

March 25th, 2011, bySHERRYN DANIEL

S.C. Gov. Nikki Randhawa Haley is the first Indian American woman to hold this office. Photo by: Albert N. Milliron, Wikimedia Commons.
S.C. Gov. Nikki Randhawa Haley is the first Indian American woman to hold this office. Photo by: Albert N. Milliron, Wikimedia Commons.

Women’s history month is a celebration of what American women have contributed to U.S. culture. When most people think of American women and their contributions to women’s history, they may switch between African American or Caucasian role models like Rosa Parks, Hillary Rodham Clinton, or Susan B. Anthony.

Though these and several other African American and Caucasian women have contributed a multitude to American culture — they are not the only ones.

The United States is full of successful Asian American, Hispanic and Indian American women who have enhanced the fabric of American culture with bright hues. From politics to entertainment, these women have cracked the glass ceiling.

It’s quite shocking, really, that they haven’t been as widely recognized. This is especially true for Indian American women, who have augmented opportunities for other Indian American women to advance in entertainment, politics, business, and sciences.

ARUNA MILLER AND NIKKI HALEY

Aruna Miller (pictured left) is the first Indian American woman to win as delegate in the state of Maryland. Her win creates a path for other Indian American women in politics. And Nikki Haley (pictured above with caption) is not only the first woman governor of South Carolina, but the first Indian American woman in the United States to hold the position.

INDRA NOOYI

It is safe to say that Indra Nooyi,  Forbes third most powerful
woman in 2009
, created an air hole for women to breathe new life in the business
world. Nooyi is the CEO of Pepsi and has focused on revamping the
company. She incorporated healthier ingredients and has debuted new
product lines that have enriched the company’s brand nation-wide.


MINDY KALING

Women’s history should also be inclusive of achievements made in the entertainment industry by women writers, producers and actresses. Actress Mindy Kaling, who plays Kelly Kapoor in “The Office,” is a triple threat. She stars in, writes and has produced episodes for the show. Interestingly, some of the episodes she has written have been nominated for Emmy Awards.
JHUMPA LAHIRI

Indian American author Jhumpa Lahiri won the Pulitzer Prize for her debut collection of stories — Interpreter of Maladies. Her second work — The Namesake — was turned into a film, and the British-born, Rhode Island-raised writer’s third book, Unaccustomed Earth, debuted at No. 1 on The New York Times bestseller list.

PADMA LAKSHMI

And finally, we must not forget about Padma Lakshmi — the Indian American supermodel turned TV show host for Bravo TV’s “Top Chef.” In addition to being a bona fide food expert with best-selling cookbooks under her belt, Lakshmi opened up opportunities for Indian American women to be stars.

There has been no shortage of examples of why Indian American women need to be recognized during Women’s History Month. Only time will tell if they ever will be.

Sherryn Daniel is a blogger, business school graduate student and New Media Manager for the National Women’s History Project. In her spare time, she writes self-help articles as a D.C. Examiner Self-Help writer for examiner.com.

Photo credits are as follows: Mindy Kaling by Kristin Dos Santos; Indra Nooyi by World Economic Forum; Padma Lakshmi by David Shankbone.

  • Shelly

    This is certainly a first and commendations for recognizing these Indian American women who’ve made strides and contributed to the America culture. There is work for everyone.

Last modified: May 6, 2011 at 3:18 pm