Spotlight on STEM Changemaker: Anita Krishnamurthi

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As part of NGCP's 20th Anniversary celebrations, we will be interviewing influential equity and STEM leaders and partners throughout 2022.

NGCP Board Member Anita Krishnamurthi is a passionate advocate for equitable access to education and science with a deep commitment to young people. She has a PhD in Astrophysics from The Ohio State University and moved to a career focused on STEM education and informal learning, recognizing its intersection with social mobility and social justice. Anita most recently served as the Head of Education and Learning at the Wellcome Trust, a global health philanthropy based in London.

What excites you most about your work?

The opportunity to help young people engage with science and demystify it so they have agency about STEM topics. I don’t have an agenda of wanting all young people to become scientists and engineers. But I do think science is fun, creative and beautiful and *not* reserved for an elite few to enjoy. So I want to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to see what STEM has to offer them and then make informed decisions about how they want to engage with it.  This could be as informed lay citizens using existing knowledge to make decisions for themselves and their communities or as professionals generating new knowledge and technology.  The afterschool space is a wonderful setting to “play” with STEM and see it first and foremost as a tool to understand the world around us.  Working to support the field and young people on this journey is extremely gratifying!

What do you most appreciate in a collaborator?

I really enjoy working with partners who come to the table with a deep commitment and excitement about our shared goal, a willingness to do their fair share of the work and no ego about who gets the credit.  We can then enter into a problem solving mode, challenge each other to think differently, support each other and get the job done!

Who are your role models?

I didn’t think about this much while I was growing up but I have realized that my mother was and remains my most influential role model. She was an extraordinarily resilient and strong woman who overcame a lot of challenges life threw at her and kept going.  Observing her taught me to go after what I wanted and not give up too easily. Through her actions and volunteer work, she also instilled in me a deep sense of empathy who have less than I do and a desire to work towards helping everyone to have the same chances I got.

What advice would you give to the NGCP community?

Your work is crucial! Collaborating is not just a strategy, it is a value and one that makes us a stronger community. So even though it may feel easier sometimes to just get the reins and go it alone, resist the temptation! Our long term outcomes and impacts are more robust when we invest in the relationships to work together.  I will also add that we’ve been working towards gender equity in STEM for a long time.  To see the change we all want and have women not just enter but stay in STEM fields, we need to connect the dots from access to retention to progression.  We are doing so much good work to encourage and support young women to study and work in STEM fields but we also need to support our colleagues who are working to change societal norms and the work culture to be more supportive of working women (including in STEM). We can’t send bright young people into an unchanged environment and expect different results!

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Anita Krishnamurthi

NGCP Board Member Anita Krishnamurthi, President, Collective for Youth Empowerment in STEM & Society, Senior VP, STEM & Youth Engagement at the Afterschool Alliance, is a passionate advocate for equitable access to education and science with a deep commitment to young people. She has a PhD in Astrophysics from The Ohio State University and moved to a career focused on STEM education and informal learning, recognizing its intersection with social mobility and social justice.

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