In 2023, 43 per cent of Indian graduates in STEM are women. This is the highest in the world, but, it is a result of innumerable pioneering women who broke barriers and wrote their own story by embarking into a world that did not accept them at first. These women not just dreamt, but pursued their passion, and are now a source of encouragement for millions of girls out there.Here are six women who became the firsts in their field and became an inspiration for all the future generations to come.1. Indias First engineer, Ayyalasomayajula Lalitha was born on 27 August 1919, and graduated in 1943 with a degree in electrical engineering.The first female engineer in India, will always be regarded as a pioneer in the fields of equality, education, and engineering. Lalitha got married at the tender age of 15, and gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby daughter. Four months later, her husband passed away; but instead of mourning, she decided to pursue engineering, a male-dominated space that had never seen a woman in the industry. With the support of her father, Pappu Subba Rao, who too was an engineer, Lalitha joined Chennais College of Engineering, Guindy (CEG).Throughout her career, Lalitha not only paved the way for all future female engineers, but also supported women in STEM careers, and encouraged them to attend conferences and enroll in school. In 1979, Lalitha passed away at a young age of 60; the legacy she has left behind is a gift for generations to come.2. Sarla Thukral, Indias first pilot obtained her flying license at the age of 21 in 1936. Not only did she lift the craft into the sky solo and made history, she did it in a saree!Born on 8 August 1914 in Delhi, Thukrals feat from decades ago continues to inspire young female pilots even today. Thukral was a quick learner. After getting her initial license, she clocked over 1,000 hours of flight time and flew the Gypsy Moth, a two-seater tourist and training plane, breaking the patriarchal glass ceiling.At 16, she married P D Sharma, who flew between Karachi and Lahore, and was the first Indian to be licenced as an airmail pilot. He encouraged Sarla to follow her urge to fly after recognising it.She wanted to become a commercial pilot. After her husband died in a plane crash, Thukral had no intentions to rely on others for a living and had a young daughter to support. So, she took up a fine arts diploma and established herself as a painter and a business woman. She started running her own textile printing and jewellery business, which later went on to becoming a huge success.On 15 March 2008, at the age of 91, Thukral passed away. She will remain the glorious woman pioneer, an inspiration for generations to come.3. Kamala Sohonie was an Indian biochemist who, in 1939, became the first Indian woman to receive a PhD in a scientific discipline.Born to a highly educated family in Bombay, Kamala Sohonies father and uncle were among the first chemistry graduates in the country. Kamalas love for science was inevitable. After completing her BSc in Physics and Chemistry from Bombay Presidency College, she applied for masters at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), but was refused admission. At that time, IISc was considered the best institution in the country for scientific studies and Prof. C. V. Raman headed it.Raman denied admission to Sohonie because of her gender, but Sohonie did not accept it. She pushed him to admit her to the institute, but Raman put many conditions especially for her. However, she accepted all his conditions and impressed him with her sincerity and discipline.Her research focused on neera, a popular drink made from sweet palm nectar, legumes and rice flour; and how it could meet the nutritional needs of Indians, particularly of the poor.After completing the research, she became the first Indian woman to get a PhD in a scientific discipline. She also received the Rashtrapati award. Hers was a silent revolution against gender bias in the field of science. Kamala proved that women could excel in every field.4. Kalpana Chawla was an Indian-born American astronaut and aerospace engineer who was the first woman of Indian origin to go to space.Born on 17 March, 1962 in Haryanas Karnal, Kalpana Chawla was the youngest of four siblings. Being confident and outgoing as she was known to be, she is said to have chosen her own name.Since Karnal was one of the few Indian towns at the time to have a flying club, Chawla developed an interest in aeroplanes and flying at an early age. After completing her Bachelors in Aeronautical Engineering from Punjab Engineering College at Chandigarh, she moved to the United States to pursue an M.S. degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas.After a few years of work, Kalpana Chawla was selected by NASA as an astronaut candidate in the 15th Group of Astronauts and reported to the Johnson Space Centre from March 1995 onwards. She got her first opportunity to fly in space in November 1997 as a part of a mission.In 2000, she was selected for her second mission which was repeatedly delayed and ended up finally launching on 16 January, 2003. For the 16-day flight to space, Chawlas role included the microgravity experiments, for which almost 80 experiments were conducted by the crew, studying earth and space science, advanced technology development, and astronaut health and safety.As the crew of STS-107 was re-entering Earth, Space Shuttle Columbia perished before its scheduled landing. The world lost Kalpana Chawala but her legacy lives on in many ways.Even after her death, Kalpna Chawla remains a massive form of inspiration to many Indian women for her achievements as well as for her successful career as an astronaut.5. Dr. Anandibai Gopal Joshi was the first Indian female doctor of western medicine. She was also the first woman surgeon and the first examiner, proctor and registrar in Bombay at that time. Hers is one of the most inspiring life stories.Dr Anandi Gopal Joshi, chose to become a doctor of western medicine as she always liked to help people. Her father was a farmer and educated his children at home till the age of seven. He then arranged for them to attend the local school. Anandi Gopal Joshi studied in an English medium school, where she excelled in her studies and then made significant contribution to the field of Medicine and Life.After completing her Bachelor's Degree in English from the Kalyan Girls' College, Bombay in 1883, she went to England to study medicine and graduated as a doctor of medicine (MRCS) in 1885.As an Indian woman, it was very difficult for her to get admission into a medical college for women. She was finally admitted into the Medical College for Women, which was at the time found to be more progressive than those for men.After multiple stints in England and the US, she returned to India and joined the civil hospital in Pune in 1882 as a medical officer. Later, she received a job offer from the British Indian Government to work as a medical officer at their dispensary in Belgaum. Dr. Anandibai Joshi had a strong conviction about the value of women's education.Her dedication to society extended beyond her career and included a persistent investment in the sociocultural advancement of women. Many women have benefited from her concept of working for the social advancement of women by becoming more self-assured in public.6. Dr. Aditi Pant became the first Indian woman in history to have visited the frozen terrain of Antarctica in 1983.While pursuing her BSc from Pune University, Dr. Pant took to reading The Open Sea by Alister Hardy, and thats when she decided to take it up as a career. She got a US government scholarship to study an MS in Marine Sciences in the University of Hawaii and later did did her PhD at Westfield College, London University.In the field of geology and oceanography, she has established herself as a notable oceanographer. She was interestingly a part of the third and fifth Indian expeditions to Antarctica to conduct geological and oceanographic studies.She has inspired young girls and made the country proud.