San Francisco Dawoodi Bohras Mark International Women and Girls in Science Day

Leading up to International Women and Girls in Science Day, Fatema Poonawala, a Dawoodi Bohra Computer Scientist and Principal Engineer, set out to find other women in the local Bohra community who, like her, shared a passion for STEM and broke barriers by choosing a career field in which women have historically been underrepresented.

What did she find? Close to the heart of Silicon Valley – the world’s long-standing hub for innovation and technological breakthrough – many Bohra women, had pursued STEM related careers and were making extraordinary impact across a number of fields – including healthcare, information technology, and many more.

“As a young girl, the deep emphasis that our 52nd spiritual leader, the late His Holiness Dr. Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin placed on education for women and girls, combined with my passion for STEM, inspired me to pursue a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Computer Science before working within Silicon Valley’s topmost IT security and networking companies.  I’m thrilled to know so many women from our community have chosen similar career paths and are finding ways to contribute to the advancement of society through STEM fields,” said Fatema.

“Today I’m hoping that we’ll be able to inspire other women and girls to pursue STEM related fields as well, following the encouragement of our 53rd spiritual leader, His Holiness Dr. Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, to focus our STEM-related education and talents towards the benefit of progress and humanity,” Fatema added.

On International Women and Girls in Science Day, the Dawoodi Bohras of San Francisco are proud to honor Fatema and the many other Bohra women from throughout the region who like her, are inspired by His Holiness to pursue STEM related careers. Among the many:

Fatema Poonawala

[Pictured above] She holds a Masters in Computer Science from Pune University with experience in Enterprise Security, High Availability and Backup, and recovery domains. She is currently working as a Sr. Principal Software Engineer at Symantec in the Bay Area. Her job involves architecting features along with writing code for an enterprise security product that helps enterprises secure their data. Fatema has held a variety of positions over the course of her career, including working as a Technical Lead/Architect and Product Owner. She also has experience working with cross functional teams, such as Product Management and Customer Success.


Mubaraka Arif

With a Master’s Degree in Computer Science from Madras University and various certifications on cloud platforms, Mubaraka is a Principal Data/Cloud Architect at Kaiser Permanente. Her work entails enabling Digital Transformations and guiding Machine Learning, AI, and Robotics teams on how to deliver data solutions on modern architecture. She’s an expert in Machine Learning, Big Data, Data Warehouse and Information Management, and Data Analytics, concentrating specifically on engineering automated pipelines and Operations of Azure Cloud for Kaiser Permanente. She is also responsible for using their foundation data to form powerful analyses using analytics and machine learning, along with AI driven business insights. She is currently leading a global team in Kaiser’s cloudification journey that is working with the world’s premier healthcare platform.

Zaineb Sharafali

A Clinical Scientist at Genentech Inc., Zaineb holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health from the University of Michigan. She’s currently working on finding new treatment options for patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. On a day-to-day basis, she works on a global team to design studies to evaluate treatments on safety and efficacy, and performs analyses on the data they collect. Before working on Inflammatory Bowel Disease, she worked in oncology, evaluating the safety and efficacy of newly approved treatments in a real-world setting.

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