In a period when women seldom took up jobs, Damyanti Gupta dreamt of being an engineer at Ford company and successfully earned it at the age of 25.
Originally from Sindh in Pakistan (which was part of India), Damyanti’s family migrated to India during the Partition. She was born in 1942 into the Hingorani family, who gave great importance to female education.
Damyanti grew up listening to speeches of then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru which inspired her to take up engineering. She remembers the PM saying, “India needs engineers post-independence. Not just boys, but girls too.”
Soon, she joined mechanical engineering and was the only girl in the department. “Everyone including the dean thought I’d quit after a few days. But I rode a bike to my college every day with many tools needed for practicals and did everything that was done only by male students. It was challenging but nothing discouraged me,” Damyanti tells The Better India.
She was inspired to work for Henry Ford after reading his biography and took the cheapest ship to Michigan soon after completing the course.
Damyanti’s family supported her and sent her to the US by selling their properties. She was rejected in her first attempt but soon she turned her into the first-ever female engineer at Ford. The HR at Ford Motors said, “You’re applying for an engineering job, but we have no females here.” Damyanti retorted, “I’m here, and unless you hire me, you’ll never have any.”
She is not only one of India’s first female engineers but also the first mechanical engineer to pass out from her college.
Damyanti, who now resides in Florida with her husband, says, “If you find your interest in something, go for it and never look back. The trick is to keep the butterflies moving inside your stomach but stay strong on the outside.” This 79-year-old lady now inspires thousands of women including her five granddaughters.
Watch the story of this powerful lady whose name is to be engraved in the history of great Indian women:
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)