Swinburne software engineering lecturer, Dr Muneera Bano, has been named the overall winner of the inaugural 40 Under 40: Most Influential Asian-Australians Awards.
Celebrating the achievements of the next generation of Asian-Australians, the awards are designed to provide a stepping stone to further leadership opportunities.
Co-hosted by the Australian National University (ANU), PwC Australia and Asialink, the awards were announced at the Asian-Australian Leadership Summit (AALS) in Melbourne
“Dr Bano is a highly visible role model for women in STEM, whose personal journey is incredibly inspiring,” says Jason Johnson, Managing Director of executive search firm Johnson, one of the eight award judges.
Dr Bano grew up in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. In high school, she followed her four brothers to study science. Her mother encouraged her to study medical science at university – a more acceptable profession for women in Pakistan.
“I preferred to study computer science, even though it was a male-dominated profession in Pakistan, as I was more passionate about computing and was determined to break the stereotypes,” Dr Bano says.
Educational journey from Pakistan to Australia
After completing a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science at the International Islamic University Islamabad, Dr Bano arrived in Australia in 2012. She began working as a research trainee before being offered a scholarship to undertake a doctorate at the University of Technology Sydney. She graduated in 2015 with a PhD in software engineering.
“I am a software engineer but I work in different domains looking at how we can make things better for society,” she says.
Dr Bano’s research focus is investigating how various emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), are going to impact the future. She looks for ways to engineer technology to work better with the people who use it.
At the moment Dr Bano is looking at AI technologies for vulnerable young parents. She is also investigating how to improve student learning and the classroom experience, particularly for software engineering students. She says highlighting the mistakes of IT students early on, can help them improve their assessed work.
Superstar of STEM
Last year Dr Bano was named a Superstar of STEM by Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, the Hon Karen Andrews. This two year program aims to change society’s gender assumptions about scientists and increase the public visibility of women in STEM.
Dr Bano says she was encouraged by Swinburne’s Associate Dean of? Learning and Teaching, Professor Angela Carbone, to apply for the Superstar of STEM program. She appreciates the supportive network of mentors and colleagues at Swinburne and the women in STEM community throughout Australia.
As the winner of the 40 Under 40 Awards Dr Bano receives a scholarship from the University of Sydney to participate in the Cultural Diversity and Leadership Fellowship at the University of Sydney Business School in November 2019. This program is the first of its kind in Australia. It aims to address the gap in training for high-achieving multicultural leaders, and for organisations who want to take their diversity and inclusion to the next level.
Swinburne and gender equity
Swinburne is part of the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) pilot program to improve the promotion and retention of women and gender minorities in STEMM. This year Swinburne's action plan towards gender equity was recognised with an inaugural SAGE Athena SWAN Bronze Award. For ten consecutive years Swinburne has been recognised by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) as an Employer of Choice for Women.
Asian Australian Leadership Summit
The national Asian Australian Leadership Summit (AALS) is aimed at elevating the issue of greater Asian-Australian representation in senior leadership positions, energising efforts to break through the ‘bamboo ceiling’ and highlighting the important contribution that Asian-Australians can play in our future engagement with Asia.