Through the glass ceiling

28 February 2019
Winter 2019

Shahina Pardhan MCOptom was the first female Professor of Optometry in the UK and is active in the Women in Vision UK network. She speaks to Acuity about how her experience can help other women in research.

Founding director of the Vision and Eye Research Institute at the School of Medicine, Anglia Ruskin University, Shahina Pardhan MCOptom has been the trailblazer for women in the vision research community. She is the recipient of the first Ismaili Award for Excellence (1992, for outstanding academic achievement), an Asian Women of Achievement Award (2001), and an Asian Jewel Award (2005, in healthcare and education). But perhaps more powerful than any award is her life experience.

At 18, Shahina moved to Yorkshire from Tanzania and went on to graduate with a first-class degree in optometry from the University of Bradford. After receiving a scholarship from the College of Optometrists, she completed her doctorate in 1989. She joined the University of Bradford in 1994 where she was its only Asian female lecturer, and became the first woman to be appointed Professor of Optometry, at Anglia Ruskin University. In 2001, only 1.3 per cent of all professors in the UK were women from black and ethnic minority backgrounds.  

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