Breaking through the barriers of gender stereotypes in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is something that Biomedical and Pharmaceutical student, Sajida Begum, is set on achieving.
In recognition of International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we hear from Sajida on her journey into STEM.
Interest from a young age
When someone in her family fell sick, Sajida was soon interested in diseases and how they could be cured.
“Having an ill member of my family left me with a yearning to care for people. As a teenager, I worked as a care assistant as I had an urge to look after people. Although this was a physically and emotionally demanding role, I could see how my work was positively affecting patients.
“As a mother, it is often difficult to juggle family life, a career and education. I found that University Centre Leeds offered me a flexible course which was moulded to my needs, meaning I could attend the centre two days a week. The programme suits me perfectly; it covers a varied range of science subjects which enables me to make an informed career choice.
“The course has a small class size, which is great for quality time with teachers who are very considerate and accommodating. We’ve worked on some interesting modules, such as Integrated Practical Skills and have engaged in a range of experiments. One particular experiment I found interesting was the thin layer chromatography test, which involves the separation of components from samples.”
Women taking steps in STEM
There are many transferable skills we develop in everyday life which can be adapted to a role in STEM, such as multitasking.
“I feel it’s important for women to get into STEM, as many already possess the skills that would benefit this sector. For example, as a mother, I have good multitasking and critical thinking skills which can be transferred to my role in STEM. I would encourage any woman interested in STEM to simply follow her instinct and break the stereotype of gender bias.
“I enjoy studying this subject as I’m learning about things that we really take for granted, for example our circulatory and nervous systems. It gives us an in-depth appreciation for our bodies and things that happen inside them.
“I aspire to become a geneticist in the future, as I have a passion for problem solving and critical thinking.”