Hibah Rahmani is an an Avionics and Flights Control Engineer at NASA, working on rockets such as the Pegasus XL and Falcon 9. She hails from Pakistan, and spent some part of her life in Kuwait. Previously, she worked for the Boeing Company at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) as a Systems Engineer working on International Space Station (ISS) processing.
At NASA, she provides technical expertise, follows launch vehicle testing, performs data reviews and provides technical assessments of engineering issues. She has also obtained a Graduate Certificate in Space Systems Engineering from Stevens Tech and participated in the 2012 Space Studies Program offered by the International Space University.
Turkey and Iran are two of the front-liners when it comes to progress of Muslim majority countries in STEM fields. When it comes to futuristic progress, STEM study in Turkey and Iran enable these countries to take a lead on the global scale, and a developing country like Pakistan can benefit tremendously from following in their footsteps.
What’s pleasantly surprising is the fact that Turkey’s progress is quite rapidly evolving in STEM. In fact, Turkey is ahead of some western states when it comes to the participation of women in the arena of STEM.
The ode to women’s rise in STEM goes to the Turkish women themselves as they empower each other to progress in the field of STEM on an individual, societal and communal level. And for those of us witnessing this epicenter of change for them, it’s like a breath of fresh air.
WEI is one such non- profit organization that is empowering women to boldly step forward in the art of STEM. The mission of IEEE WEI is to “facilitate the recruitment and retention of women in technical disciplines globally. IEEE WIE envisions a vibrant community of IEEE women and men collectively using their diverse talents to innovate for the benefit of humanity.”
IEEE's implementation in Turkey is likely to emancipate women from the societal chained mind-set that females are not to enter the field of STEM; (at least seriously) or in terms of a long term profession.
This shift of the tectonic plates of the mind is what is causing Turkey to rise, like a phoenix from the ashes, in the field of STEM. And the proof is in the pudding; according to the Muslim science website; Task Force Essay: STEM Education and the Muslim Gender Divide the amount of women in engineering is declining in the U.S., while it is improving in other countries. For example, the U.S. is behind thirteen Muslim countries in the percentage of women graduating with STEM degrees, including Turkey. Moreover, a study titled Women in Engineering, Science, Technology and Mathematic; by Kristine De Welde, from Florida Gulf Coast University and Sandra Laursen and Heather Thiry from the University of Colorado at Boulder, shows that around the world Turkey and Greece both have twice as many graduates for BS and PhD in physics than the US. Reinforcing that viewpoint, Turkish organizations like FeteMM are on the yellow brick road to success in the subject of STEM.
In this manner, the Turkish unique blend of old and new applied in STEM is really working. Pakistan should follow in their footsteps by merging historical culture and modernity simultaneously to take women’s progression forward. This can be done by adopting methods from the west but customizing them to suit the historical values of Pakistan.
Readers, when I said Iran has taken the world by storm it was not a statement to be taken lightly. According to the post mentioned above, 60 percent of university students in Iran are women, and women comprise 70 percent of the science graduates. Thus, Iranian women are more educated than their American and Pakistani counterparts, at least as far as STEM are concerned.
An article by Forbes/ Entrepreneur’s illustrates “The common myth about women in Iran is that they are seen, but not heard, that they’re not permitted to drive, that they are second-class citizens, and that entrepreneurship and positions of power are out of reach. These notions are wrong.” And I could not agree with this statement more.
As I write this article I am overcome by emotions of gratitude and a feeling of 'awe' towards the Iranian women who are breaking stereotypes left, right and centre. Did I say break? I meant utterly shattering the ego of chauvinistic men who have failed in preventing women from progressing in STEM As Doctor Peyvadni said “It’s a historic change.”
This can be seen in the fact that Iranian women are now entering the male dominated field of technology and blooming in the tech business. For those women reading this article in Pakistan this is not your typical article where I will just go on a pessimistic rant about how other Muslim nations are excelling, such as the progressive STEM study in Turkey and Iran, while we just sit behind and watch as the world and is women progress and we stand at a standstill, NO!
What can Pakistan learn from STEM Study in Turkey and Iran:
Identification of areas where Pakistan is lagging behind:
Methods of Improvement:
Lets let the progress of STEM study in Turkey and Iran be an example for aspiring women scientists in Pakistan, but only if the above mentioned changes are implemented - rather than just be written and talked about - can the female population of Pakistan progress in similar fashion to the nations of Iran and Turkey.
“If we’re going to out-innovate and out-educate the rest of the world, we’ve got to open doors for everyone. We need all hands on deck, and that means clearing hurdles for women and girls as they navigate careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.” – Michelle Obama, First Lady of the US.
Vivacious. And making waves.