Women Breaking Ceilings Series: Meet Dr. Afolabi Ibukun.
Highlighting Dr. Afolabi Ibukun, a Data Scientist and an IBM Predictive Analytics Modeler Mastery Award Winner. She is currently a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Computer and Information Sciences, Covenant University, Otta — Nigeria.
Meet Dr. Afolabi Ibukun
Afolabi Ibukun is a Data Scientist and is currently a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Computer and Information Sciences, Covenant University. She holds a B.Sc in Engineering Physics from Obafemi Awolowo University, an M.Sc in Computer Science from the University of Ibadan and finally a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Covenant University, which was obtained in 2012. Afolabi Ibukun has over 15 years working experience in Computer Science research, teaching and mentoring. Her specific areas of interest are Data & Text Mining, Programming and Business Analytics. She has supervised several undergraduate and postgraduate students in computer science research and published over 39 articles in International high impact journals and conferences indexed in Scopus and Web of Science. She has also participated with paper presentation in conferences both local and international among which is the resent one that held in San Francisco, USA. She is an IBM Predictive Analytics Modeler Mastery Award Winner and Organizer of Data Science for Business workshops and training. From her wealth of knowledge in data analytics and Business intelligence, she currently runs a Business Analytics Consulting and Training company named I&F Networks Solutions. She is a member of the Computer Profession of Nigeria (CPN) and Nigeria Computer Society (NCS). Afolabi Ibukun is happily married to Oluwafemi Afolabi and blessed with 2 children.
I was motivated into the science field by my parents who wanted me to be an Engineer. Even though I loved the sciences, I was not particularly interested in engineering but Computer Science. I went ahead to study Engineering Physics as my first degree but always had interest in computing because somehow at that time I felt it was like a way to get things done easily. After my B.Sc, I went for my masters in Computer Science and have been loving it ever since.
Aside from work, I love to participate in programs that help teenagers develop their relationship with God and be valuable to the society. I organize “lets-talk” once a month. “Lets-talk” is about teens coming together to talk about those things that they would not ordinarily discuss at home or in school but have direct impact in their lives, positively or negatively. I am also passionate about building a reading culture in children and adults- so I have a reading club both online and offline where Christian resources materials are available for use at no cost. Finally, I love watching movies and do a lot of card craft.
I look forward to seeing a paradigm shift when it comes to what girls/women can and cannot do. Even though there has been a lot of advocacy on women literacy, statistics shows that there is still a lot of ground to cover. Also, in Africa it is interesting to know that we now have more girls graduating in STEM related courses compared to before, but sadly, due to cultural pressures, they abandon the degree, enter into marriage and the rest is history. There is need for them to know that they can do both. A way to achieve this is to provide a link between those that have been able to achieve this, i.e STEM mentors and those wondering how this is achievable. Most times, those who need mentoring do not have much access to those that can help them. So I believe there is need to create more enabling environment for this, particularly leveraging on technology to achieve this.
I have both male and female role models. The female ones are Professor Adenike Osofisan (the first Nigerian woman to hold a Ph.D in Computer science and the first African woman computer science professor) whom I chose because she is active, real and believes in quality academic research. Another is Professor Aizeanta Obayan (former vice chancellor of Covenant University) of blessed memory, I chose her because she believed in excellence and paid attention to details.
The greatest challenge I have faced as a woman in stem is having to constantly battle male colleagues. I guess due to cultural beliefs; they just tend to think that women’s place is in the kitchen even in this 21 st century. The battle comes in different forms and sizes but I have found that the cheapest way to overcome them is to prove your worth. Quit explaining yourself or struggling with anyone, but build capacity and in no time they just will not have any choice but to listen to what you have to say, because you have got the answer. Also there is need to have a lot of emotional intelligence.
The digital transformation, globalization and so on is radically changing the future of work or career, most jobs that exist now will disappear in the next 15–20 years. So there is need to commit to lifelong learning and for any STEM related career to have relevance in the future, it has to be abreast of current technological development. This means that even after your degree, you have to keep developing skills that will help in your career for example
taking courses on platform like Coursera etc.
- From my experience as a STEM Educator, having worked in the academia for over 15 years I realized that to succeed, you don’t just select a course because its trending, your parents requested it or due to JAMB cut off. You have to actually love it and have passion for it, and this can only be possible when you find out what the course entails and the career fallouts, before you choose to study it in the university. Given my mentoring experience in the academia I have seen a lot of students struggle and fall out just because of this lack of information.
- Also if you are interested in pursuing a post graduate degree, Msc. or PhD, first research your mentor vis-a-vis his or her area of competency and contribution to knowledge before choosing such a mentor. This will determine if you will get the necessary mentorship and academic quality.
- Lastly, be focused, determined and never give up no matter what. Look for quality career mentors, reach out to them and you will be surprised how much they are willing to help.
Women who are not afraid to bring out the best in themselves. Women who are ready to go the extra mile to contribute to knowledge and improve the society. Women who are ready to change the status quo.
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I & F Network Solutions Ltd.