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10 Powerful Women Who Are Shattering The Glass Ceiling

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We won’t pussyfoot around it. The glass ceiling exists in India. Heck, it exists across the world. And while women may be deserving, strong and ambitious, very few make it to the top. Board rooms and CEO positions have remained elusive. Women want to power through but questions about dedication, their time and the justification of their salary continue to arise making their attempts at shattering the glass ceiling nothing more than soft jabs. But then there are few women who are making it look easy. These 10 females wouldn’t take no for an answer, refused to be defined and pinned down by their gender. These are women that are storming the male bastions, and doing it in style. Unapologetically fierce, they aren’t letting gender norms decide their successes. These are women that will give you all the inspiration you need. They are great at their business. And their business is great. Let’s meet them.

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Falguni Nayar, CEO, Nykaa

Almost every Indian girl who has ever bought makeup online in India has visited Nykaa. At least once. And now, Nykaa is one of the biggest online retailers in the country. It’s a young company, started only in 2012. Hers is now a 280 crore enterprise. At a time when investors are cautious and businesses are scaling down, the only way she is looking is, up.

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Taru Dahiya, JAPAC Head, Google Cloud

The world of tech belongs to those hunched over a computer, staring at a screen. And the women are few and far in between. Taru Dahiya isn’t your average nerd but she’s making it look really easy. She heads a dynamic team for Google Cloud, leads by example and is addicted to her smartphone. She’s spent 17 years in the digital marketing space but continues to enjoy her work. But most importantly, in an industry where men are everywhere, she’s storming the male bastion and in style.

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Aditi Mittal, Comedian

They said women aren’t funny. They asked her to leave comedy to the men. Aditi wouldn’t hear of it. In 2019, when the stand up comedy scene in India was nascent and nobody knew women could make people laugh, Aditi took to the stage and changed all that. She’s funny, she’s sarcastic and has been consistently voted one of the top comedians in India. And she’s not leaving any time soon. So buckle up people, this woman is here to make you laugh.

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Ekta Kapoor, Joint Managing Director, Balaji Telefilms

The country might not credit her with making quality content, but there’s not denying that Ekta Kapoor has her hand on the pulse of the country. While many call her content regressive and backward, she’s got the business side of things going. And when the movie ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ faced issues with its release, she stepped in and backed it. She’s called the ‘queen of soap operas’ and we all know why.

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Avani Chaturvedi, First Woman Fighter Pilot

While the many women here have taken over the ground, Avani is taking over the skies. Earlier in 2018, she was among the 3 women who became fighter pilots in the Indian Air Force. She is also the first Indian woman pilot to take a solo flight in a MiG-21. During training, they didn’t allow her to train easier, in fact, she was trained to handle ‘defence missions’ should the need arise.

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Indira Hinduja, Gynaecologist

Years of social conditioning will have you believe that a female in the hospital is mostly likely a nurse. The male is the doctor. Dr. Indira Hinduja wouldn’t have any of it. This trail-blazer gynaecologist delivered India’s first test tube baby all the way back in 1986. Her work in the field of medicine has earned her several awards and she won’t take no for an answer. For her pioneering efforts, she received the Padma Shri in 2011.

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Sushma Swaraj, Minister Of External Affairs

It would be stating the obvious but politics is a male-dominated field. The few female politicians are often unheard and quite annoyingly talked over. But that’s not who Sushma Swaraj is. She refuses to be bogged down by the definitions of her gender and takes on every remark with sass. In fact, she’s often tagged in tweets asking for help, and she responds on the social media platform, takes it offline and makes things move on ground. We love this woman for the whip she cracks!

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Mirabai Chanu, Weightlifter and Medallist

Some would say that you leave the heavy lifting to the boys. Boy, are we glad Mirabai Chanu was not listening. She’s tiny but there’s no mistaking the heft she has. In 2018, she won a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games for weightlifting. She received the Padma Shri this year as well. And she’s done all this at just 24. We can’t wait to see what else she will lift! In this case, it’s an entire country’s pride.

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Charu Khurana, Bollywood Makeup Artist

Let’s admit it. Bollywood is a testosterone-fuelled industry. And while things may be changing, it hasn’t been easy. This is on screen. Behind the scenes, things are worse. Or were much worse. For a long time, 60 years to be precise, makeup artists and hairstylists had to be men. This was an unwritten rule. Charu Khurana challenged this and was one of the first women to take on this illogical rule head on. She faced protests, embarrassments and was shunned on sets, but she took the issue to court. If there’s a makeup artist you love, chances are she’s there because Charu paved the way.

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Naina Lal Kidwai, Country Head HSBC India

Number crunching, excel sheets, reports. She’s seen it all. And she’s powered through. Naina is the first Indian woman to graduate from Harvard Business School. She’s also the first Indian woman at the helm of affairs of a foreign bank in India. Naina is in the business of finance, an industry ruled by men and where there’s a stronghold on the top positions. If there’s one thing she knows, it’s that the glass ceiling can be done away with. She’s proved this time and again.

Each of these women are stalwarts in their industry. They make the glass ceiling look like a mere illusion and they are serving up the inspiration we need.


Mansi Shah is the resident humour writer and random conversation starter. Tends to laugh manically at puns. Deeply enjoys the blunt force of sarcasm. Preys on chauvinists and people with incorrect grammar. Hoards makeup and beauty products. Attacks Nutella with vigour.

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