Like Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, Dr Muneera Bano grew up in a Pashtun family where her father stood up against tradition and encouraged his daughter to get a good education.
“Pashtun girls literally have to blast the ‘concrete ceiling’ apart if they wish to take control of their life,” says Muneera. “I never took my education for granted.”
Despite growing up in Islamabad, the modern capital city of Pakistan, career options for female science students were limited. Muneera battled prejudice to achieve undergraduate and Master’s degrees in computer science (CS) where her excellent results
saw her work in academia as a lecturer.
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She moved to Australia to complete a PhD in software engineering at the University of Technology, Sydney, and work as a lecturer at Swinburne University of Technology. Her research explores apps for education, social media analysis and artificial intelligence (AI).
CS + DIY
“My recent research explored how technology might shape the future of education,” says Muneera. “Today’s students must become self-learners, using technology as a resource to keep up with the ever-changing and evolving material they must learn.” Her work has also looked at how non-diverse teams that develop AI can reproduce their own biases in the software.
Muneera has held prestigious roles on committees of journals and conferences, and attracted a swathe of nominations and awards including Schlumberger’s Award for Women in STEM twice and is now part of the Superstars of STEM program.
“I love going out and talking to young women about all the opportunities there are in science careers. It’s time to smash society’s gender assumptions about scientists and increase the public visibility of women in STEM,” she says. – Fran Molloy
Muneera’s study and career pathway:
>> Bachelor of Science / Masters, Computer Science, International Islamic University, Islamabad
>> Lecturer / Assistant Professor, International Islamic University, Islamabad
>> PhD, Software Engineering, UTS
>> Lecturer / Postdoctoral Researcher, UTS
>> Lecturer, Swinburne University
>> Senior Lecturer, Deakin University
This article originally appears in Careers with STEM: Code 2019.
Author: Fran Molloy
FRAN MOLLOY is a freelance journalist and university lecturer whose career has spanned newspapers, radio and online publications. She writes about business, careers, research, science and environment.