Women in science continue to make progress and solve today’s challenges in their respective fields.

To celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on February 11, 2022, the Foundation L’Oréal and UNESCO took place at the Dubai Exhibition Center at Expo 2020 Dubai to award a total of 14 young talents for their research in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

As science continues to become an important career path for many, this esteemed event awarded women in this field to make them inspiring leaders for future generations.

During the program, Qatar-based scientist Dr. Nura Adam Mohamed carried out her research on developing nonconventional tools to prevent the development of diabetes other cardiovascular diseases and Emirates Woman exclusively spoke to her to understand more.

Could you elaborate on the research that you’ve conducted?

During my Postgraduate studies, I became interested in the nanomedicine field, a promising area that is attracting national and international interests, especially as the world is moving towards developing targeted therapeutics, and personalized medicine. Since then, I focused on nanoparticles that have cardio-protective effects to be used as an advanced treatment method for cardiovascular diseases/complications associated with diabetes. Diabetes is one of the most common chronic metabolic disorders in Qatar, the Gulf region and the world, and cardiovascular complications are the most common complications of diabetes. Studies have shown that uncontrolled and persistent metabolic abnormalities caused by diabetes lead to many damages to large and small blood vessels eventually causing many cardiovascular diseases. This shows the importance of developing non-traditional therapeutic tools. Therefore, my research focuses on developing nanoformulations and using them as drug carriers that in addition to transporting diabetes drugs have properties that enable them to reduce cardiovascular complications.

What are the challenges you have faced being a woman in a male-dominated field?

When women in the scientific field are empowered with the required tools, they can play a pivotal role in the scientific field in order to ensure the advancement of the field. However, that is not always the case because women often face many internal and external challenges that cause the gender gap in the scientific field. These challenges include limiting social stereotypes, differences in pay, work-related stress, and work-life imbalances that restrict them to certain workplaces. These challenges lead to occupational segregation. Furthermore, despite the great achievements made by women in the scientific field, and the noticeable improvement in the status of women; female scientists still face many difficulties. Including the difficulty of reconciling work and family in light of increased work pressures and the urgent need to increase production capacity, in addition to social and cultural challenges, and the desire of Gulf women to preserve their unique identity.

Dr.Nura Adam Mohamed

Women empowerment is of paramount importance in the UAE. How does it feel to pave the way for so many women in the region?

I feel honored and delighted to be representing female scientists in our region. We were lucky to have had strong examples of female scientists, and today by achieving high levels and obtaining awards, we are honoring them. In addition, by discussing the challenges we faced and finding solutions for them we are setting an example for our future scientists. In my opinion, female empowerment should start at very early stages as early as primary schools, and by hosting public engagements and welcoming young girls to open research days and later to volunteer in the research field we can expose them at early stages to this field. This will help build their research and academic personality, improve their independence thereby preparing a strong and experienced generation.

What piece of advice would you give to aspiring researchers in their respective fields?

My advice to every girl and woman who wants to build a career in scientific research is not to be afraid of making mistakes and to consider every failed step during the early stages of the research career as a motive to move forward and take another step forward to reach the right path. Also, always remember that success never comes easily, and behind every successful scientific story is a large number of failed attempts that help us learn, grow and be stronger to help build and consolidate the pillars of the scientific field. Most importantly, I advise them not to lose their identity along the way, to always remember who they are, where they come from, what they want to achieve, and always help each other. In the end, I would like to say that a person’s success in the scientific research field is a success to all of us, so let us remember that and always focus on the big picture; the ends are always worth the struggle and sacrifices we put into getting there.

What are your hopes for the future of women in this country?

Women in the Gulf area have achieved remarkable successes in various fields, including the scientific research field. These gains enabled them to make remarkable progress in the status of women in the Arab world as a whole and to participate as an effective partner in consolidating and building the scientific research field. Certainly, women’s active participation contributed to enhancing their role in the development of society, which was achieved thanks to the continuous support provided by our governments. We cannot forget that women are the foundation and core of society, as they are the daughters, sisters, wives, and mothers, and we add to this equation that they are diligent workers keen to contribute to the development and building of all pillars of society. We can only imagine the size of the responsibility they bear for this. Therefore, this progress and development in the status of women in the scientific research field are still punctuated by some difficulties that they still face. Including the difficulty of reconciling work and family in light of increased work pressures and the urgent need to increase production capacity, in addition to social and cultural challenges, and the desire of Gulf women to preserve their ancient identity.

How does it feel to receive the prestigious L’Oréal UNESCO award and what more do you wish to achieve in the future?

I was thrilled and happy when I heard the great news, as this award will help me set an example for my colleagues and students, and to encourage more women to join the scientific research community. This award will help me do that and to represent researcher females in Qatar, the Gulf area and the Middle East, it will also help me set an example for others, and it will enable me to build collaborative relationships with world-leading scientists in the field of nanomedicine in both cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Most importantly, this award will help me meet our fellow scientists from the Gulf and the Middle East, build relationships and form a great image of our societies. Finally, this award will help me better establish my research and to take it to the next level.

How does it feel to be a woman paving the way in the GCC?

Despite all the efforts made, women still represent a small percentage in all areas of scientific research from basic research to decision-making levels, this award will therefore help us better highlight this aspect. By meeting our fellow female scientists from different regions, we can discuss the challenges we are facing, possible ways that can help us overcome them and with the positive media coverage, we can send our voices so that the conditions of females in science will further improve. As female scientists in the GCC we need to remember the sacrifices and hard work the previous generations of female scientists made, now it’s up to us to move the work forward and extend their messages so that our future female scientists will have everything we hoped for them to have.

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