Who Was Anna Mani & How Was She a Pioneer for Women in STEM?

Anna Mani
Anna Mani
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In a society where women represent just around one-third of the labor force in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), the remarkable experiences of innovators such as Anna Mani stand out. Anna Mani, renowned as The Weather Woman of India, was a trailblazer in meteorology whose impact shattered obstacles and laid the groundwork for women in STEM. This piece will explore her life, accomplishments, and lasting influence.

Anna Mani’s Early Life

Anna Mani was born in 1918 into a prosperous Indian family as the seventh of eight children. Her father, a civil engineer, and scientist, played a pivotal role in shaping her intellectual curiosity. He inspired her with the idea of critical thinking, instructing his children to question and verify every statement before accepting it.

In an era when only 1 percent of women in India could read, Mani was a remarkable anomaly. She possessed an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and was known for her avid reading habits. Her commitment to education became apparent when, at the age of eight, she chose a set of encyclopedias over the customary gift of diamond earrings. By the time she turned 12, she had already consumed nearly every book in her neighborhood library.

Anna Mani’s Education

Unlike most young women of her era in India, who did not pursue higher education, Mani remained committed to her academic pursuits. After completing her undergraduate degree, she was awarded a scholarship in 1940 to engage in physics research at the esteemed Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. During this time, she had the privilege of collaborating with the renowned Nobel Laureate C.V. Raman.

Anna Mani

Mani’s research at the Indian Institute of Science led to the publication of five research papers and a Ph.D. dissertation. However, she faced a setback when her Ph.D. application was denied due to her lack of a master’s degree. She later obtained a government scholarship to study physics in London, where her focus shifted unexpectedly to metrological instrumentation. Little did she know that this twist of fate would play a pivotal role in her future accomplishments.

Anna Mani’s Contributions

In 1948, following India’s independence, Anna Mani returned to her homeland and joined the Indian Meteorological Department. Here, she embarked on a mission to develop indigenous weather instruments, eliminating the country’s dependence on imports. Through her hard work and knowledge, she rose to the role of deputy director general of the department. Mani and her team effectively altered the design and manufacturing process of around 100 instruments, allowing India to rely on its meteorological technology.

One of Mani’s significant contributions was in the study of ozone. Her work led to the creation of an instrument known as an “ozonesonde,” enabling accurate measurements of the ozone layer. This research highlighted variations in ozone thickness due to geographic location and air pollution. Being ahead of her time, Mani was visionary in her understanding of the crucial importance of the ozone layer in safeguarding life on Earth.

What Was the Cause of Anna Mani’s Death?

Anna Mani, who defied traditional gender norms in India by pursuing education and a career, passed away in 2001 at the age of 83 after suffering a stroke. Her legacy lives on through her impactful work in meteorology and her role as an inspiration for girls and women in STEM. She chose not to marry and believed in the intellectual equality of men and women, leaving a lasting impact on the field of science.


In a world where gender disparities in STEM fields persist, Anna Mani’s story stands as a testament to resilience, dedication, and unwavering commitment to knowledge. Her pioneering contributions to meteorology and her unwavering belief in the pursuit of excellence continue to inspire individuals worldwide. Anna Mani’s legacy is a reminder that barriers can be broken, and women can be trailblazers in fields historically dominated by men.