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Powerful Asian Womxn Everyone Should Know About

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCD chapter.

Growing up, I had so many amazing womxn in my life who acted as my role models and inspired me to be the hardworking person I am today. However, the most influential role model in my life has to be my mom. My mom is incredibly hardworking, and throughout her career life has always held leadership positions. I didn’t think much of it when I was younger, and thought that she was simply smart enough to be a leader. Little did I know, it takes so much more than just smarts and knowledge. When I was a teenager, my mom taught me an important lesson that I will remember for the rest of my life. She told me that as womxn in the workforce, we are forced to cross a barrier called the “glass ceiling,” which is a metaphor representing the invisible barrier that keeps womxn from rising above a certain level in the hierarchy of their career. And then she told me that as Asian womxn, we are faced with an additional barrier called the “bamboo ceiling,” which stands for the difficulties that many Asian-Americans face when attempting to climb their career ladder, including stereotypes and racism. Long story short, it can be quite difficult for Asian-American womxn to hold powerful positions, and those who do have made history and should be remembered forever. Here are a few amazing Asian-American womxn who have created an impact on our history:

Vlad Tchompalov
Vlad Tchompalov / Unsplash

1. Patsy Mink 

The first womxn of color in Congress. Mink, a third-generation Japanese American was elected to the United States Congress in 1964. While in office, she worked to gain rights for immigrants, womxn, and children. She also heavily advocated for Title IX, which provided academic and athletic equity in American educational institutions. Mink went on to be the first Asian-American to try for the Democratic presidential nomination.

2. Chien-Shiung Wu: the “Chinese Marie Curie” 

Wu worked as a part of the Manhattan Project, which was the research and development that ultimately helped the United States create the atomic bomb during World War II. Wu also served as the first Asian-American president of the American Physical Society starting in 1975. She was involved in game-changing physics and absolutely loved going to the lab.

various makeup utensils

3. Toni Ko 

As a self-made businesswoman, Ko came to California from Daegu, South Korea, and has been interested in business almost all of her life. At 25 years old, she started her cosmetics company, NYX cosmetics, which she eventually sold to L’Oreal for $500 million. She now owns a sunglass company, Perverse Sunglasses, and has recently been named one of Forbes’ richest self-made womxn.

4. Kalpana Chawla

The first Indian American female astronaut. In 1997, Chawla made 252 orbits of the Earth in a little over two weeks. Chawla was sent on a second voyage, during which she and her crew completed nearly 80 experiments studying Earth and space. Unfortunately, she and the rest of the crew of the STS-107 shuttle Columbia were killed on her second voyage when the Columbia broke up during re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere, but her legacy will live on forever.

These Asian-American womxn have changed history forever, despite the barriers and challenges they faced. They are all incredibly inspiring, and they serve as reminders that being an Asian-American womxn is pretty badass. Anyone can be anything if they put their mind to it. As womxn in modern society, we should continue to fight against the “glass ceiling” and take on the leadership positions we know we deserve. I hope that someday, womxn will no longer have to face unnecessary barriers, but for now, I know that we can thrive despite the challenges. 

Hannah is studying Communications and Professional Writing at UC Davis. She is eager to share her experiences and lifestyle tips and tricks to motivate and inspire her peers to lead a healthy, balanced life! In her free time, Hannah enjoys playing with her dog, singing, and grabbing bubble tea with friends!
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