Daljit Dhaliwal was my childhood hero. The British Asian anchor of BBC World News in the 90s was part of my daily routine. I’d sit next to my grandmother every evening and watch her report the news to millions on channel 32. Despite growing up in the diverse Washington D.C. area, a British woman of South Asian descent was the only person I saw who looked “like me” in a visible position of leadership in the mainstream media. Today, we’re lucky to have many more examples, but there is still an illusion around Asian American representation that we shouldn’t gloss over.
Asian Americans make up 12% of the professional workforce even though we only make up 5.6% of the U.S. population. Despite such high numbers, we’re the least likely group to be promoted into management — less than any other race, including blacks and Latinos. In 2017, a study by the Asia Society revealed that more than one in four U.S. corporations had no Asian or Asian American representation at all.
Now, let’s take a deeper look at Asian American women. According to a study by Ascend Leadership, the representation of Asian American women in leadership roles is the worst in comparison to White, Black, and Latina women. If we double click and categorize Asian Americans into Indian, Chinese, Korean, Pakistani, Filipino, the representation will get less and less. Regardless of that fact, we are making progress, which we do need to celebrate, encourage, and highlight.
In short, from Daljit Dhaliwal, we’ve come a long way. I’m proud and inspired to highlight some of the specifically South Asian women in tech who are making moves. There are many more out there and the list below is in no particular order.
Padmasree Warrior is the Founder, President, and CEO at Fable, which curates content based on interests. Fable’s mission is to be the world’s best mobile service for curated reading, where people can share in private groups and creators can self-publish.
Dheerja Kaur is the former Chief Product Officer at theSkimm, a company that focuses on delivering news and information into the routines of female millennials. She recently joined the product team at Robinhood.
Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan is the Founder and CEO of Drawbridge, which uses AI and machine learning to build identity solutions. After the company was acquired in LinkedIn in 2019, Kamakshi now works on Product for LinkedIn.