Blog post

Celebrating women in research: part one

In honour of Women's History Month, we decided to take a look at the women making history on campus! This is the first part in our series of blogs exploring a selection of research being conducted within the University by female academics and researchers. 

By Gender Equality Network (GEN) - 9 March 2022

Mulka Nisic

The needs of women suffering from drug addiction and those in recovery have been routinely neglected in the treatment and recovery services. Women face unequal disadvantages within the realm of treatment, recovery, and reintegration services. With the lack of gender-specific, trauma-informed services, intersected by stigmatisation and violence, advancing gender equality in the context of Drug Policy, ensuring equal access to services, reducing barriers in accessing these services and reducing stigma against women who use drugs and women in recovery, stand for some of the global challenges

The central goal of my PhD project "Stigma around addiction recovery - a social justice issue" is to examine mechanisms of behaviour change and pathways out of addiction -'recovery pathways' and to explore experience of stigmatisation and exclusion from social and community capital of women in recovery in the UK, Sweden and the Balkans. I will explore the social and cultural influencing factors and how the lives of women dependent to drug can change when they change their drug use patterns and move from active addiction to recovery.

This study will provide opportunities for linking recovery outcome research while also addressing the gap in literature around female pathways to recovery. The study will empower and engage the participants in an innovative Photovoice research project, and will provide practical materials for both women in recovery and for practitioners and service commissioners, as well as community, social and health services, policy-makers and governments from the UK, Sweden and the Balkans.

The project will include a focus on spreading the key findings on stigma and significance of recovery and will have an approach and a procedure that are consistent with the recovery paradigm of inclusivity and transparency. The implications for policy and practice will be reviewed around structural barriers and the role of social justice in advancing recovery models and pathways for women suffering from addiction.

Find out more about Mulka Nisic

Yoon Irons

I am passionate about arts, in particular, music and using arts for our health and wellbeing. I led an international group singing study involving people living with Parkinson's in Australia, South Korea and the UK. My recent book is all about how anyone can apply singing for health and wellbeing. Moreover, I have led a Mental Health Inclusive Choir project with external collaborators and Prof David Sheffield. This project produced a toolkit for group singing facilitators to promote mental health and wellbeing. Currently, I am working on an online singing study for people living with long-Covid, social prescribing projects, and Parkin-Song Care programmes.

Find out more about Yoon Irons

Ruth Richardson

Currently, my research, which has only just begun, is exploring urban young people's class identity in relation to increasing economic inequality in the UK. Historically, it might be argued that working-class identities were stereotyped as predominately white and male. Is that still the case today? Possibly class in our contemporary society is deemed as less important compared to other aspects of identity. Although some might argue class intersects and crosscuts all aspects of individual identity, communities and wider social systems. These are some of the topics that I hope to explore in more depth.

Yusra Siddiqui

I am interested in understanding the molecular events underlying prostate cancer progression, and I am in the process of establishing my research profile at the School of Human Sciences as an independent researcher in BioMedical Sciences. My research interests in prostate cancer started during my PhD at the University of Bristol, whereby I investigated the role of a transcription factor called PRH (Proline-Rich Homeodomain protein) in prostate cell migration and proliferation. I worked with a range of in vitro prostate cell lines, that were normal immortalized to highly cancerous ones to understand prostate cancer development better.

I also worked with 3D cultures of prostate cell lines, trying to recapitulate the in vivo environment in culture. My post-doctoral work was in melanoma progression, but it helped me develop an insight into using ex vivo angiogenesis assays and various cancer murine models. My work at IIMCB (Poland) equipped me with knowledge of analysing RNA-Seq data and familiarising myself with zebrafish as a model organism.

I am currently interested in understanding the link of prostate cancer progression to risk factors like sexually transmitted infections (STIs), a recent area to be explored. In this project, the link between Human Papillomavirus (HPV), the most common STI, is planned to be explored using human prostate cancer tissue sections from various clinical stages, both histologically and using bioinformatic approaches.

Find out more about Yusra Siddiqui

Tonimarie Benaton

DrPrac - research is exploring the phenomena of 'how the social worker hears the voice of children in care and how do they prioritise the information in making decisions. The care of children in care is paramount in law and hearing their voice is vital in meeting individual needs. Children in care are likely to have experienced abuse, neglect, or family breakdown and have attachment difficulties in making and sustaining relationships (Rees, 2006). However, the role of the social worker is such that regardless of how long the connection has been, the role should offer the opportunity for their voice to be heard (Ruch et al. 2018).

Communication should reflect the importance of positive, empathic, and respectful relationships which are core in social work and needed in seeking a true and authentic account of the wishes and feelings of the child, underpinning a person-centered and humanist approach (Rees, 2006 and Neuykrug, et al. 2013: cited in Hood et al. 2019). This study aims to explore how social workers receive voice.

The study will explore the social worker's experience of how the message is heard and interpreted in understanding how the content (verbal or non-verbal) is acknowledged and what transpires for action to be made. The study will consider any change needed in practice in minimising barriers and consider any solutions in supporting a more coherent transaction, resulting in children in care being heard and how does their voice support or hinder the social worker to become a better practitioner.

Read the second part of this series

Get involved!

If you're an academic or researcher within the University who identifies as female or your research focuses on women and you'd like to take part in this series, then please complete our form

About the author

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Gender Equality Network (GEN)
Equal rights

We are a forum for networking, peer support, sharing ideas and articles of interest, forging scholarly connections and collaborations, organising formal and social events, and positively influencing policy and practice on gender equality at Derby.