Women and Girls in Science: Shireen Jaufuraully
7 February 2022
For the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on 11 February 2022, we are celebrating some of the amazing women working at WEISS.
Shireen is a specialist registrar in Obstetrics & Gynaecology. She is currently taking time out of training to undertake a MD(Res) which is funded by WEISS. In collaboration with engineers from WEISS, she is developing a device to examine women in labour with the aim of improving the safety of operative birth, and thereby improve outcomes for both women and their babies.
What is your favourite thing about your job?
As a clinician, I love the buzz and excitement of the labour ward, and that no day is the same. It is an absolute privilege to care for women during one of the most important moments of their lives. It gives me the biggest sense of fulfilment to know that I’ve helped bring a new life into the world. I don’t know if I’ll ever stop marvelling at what our bodies can do!
As a researcher, I have really enjoyed working in the labs at WEISS and getting to work with the amazingly talented engineers. I’ve gained new skills and have made some lifelong friends.
Did you have a role model that influenced your decision to work in science?
At university, I undertook an intercalated degree in Women’s Health at King’s College, and was lucky enough to be supervised by Prof Lucy Chappell. As a young medical student with little experience of research, she really opened my eyes to how research could change patient outcomes for the better, and how important evidence-based medicine is. She continues to inspire me to this day.
What has been the biggest challenge of your career so far?
Covid has affected every single one of us. When I started at UCLH as a clinical research fellow in August 2020, research was quickly postponed during the second covid wave as we staffed the on-call emergency rota. It was frustrating, but I felt like I was at least helping by working clinically. The adversity that I faced at the beginning of my research career has made me more resilient, and caring for pregnant women affected by covid definitely put my research worries into perspective!
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Undertaking my MD and getting to work at WEISS has by far been the highlight of my career! I’ve learned so many new skills and have had the opportunity to work with world-leading academic supervisors and engineers. I really think they have made me a better clinician and researcher.
What’s the best piece of advice that you have received that has helped you in your career?
My dad has always told me to keep my head down and work hard, and not to compare myself to others. It’s inevitable and natural to do so, but I strongly believe that your achievements and actions speak for themselves.
What advice would you give to young girls thinking about going into science?
At school, I vividly remember past teachers telling me that I shouldn’t pursue a career in medicine because, in their minds, my personality didn’t fit the ‘typical’ mould of what a doctor and woman in science should be. Thank goodness I didn’t listen to them! Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. At the end of your career, you don’t want to be thinking to yourself ‘what if’.