International Women's Day: Meet Laura

Laura is a Senior Lecturer in the University’s School of Health and Social Work. Her research field focuses on the experiences of perinatal women who are in the criminal justice system.

How did you come to work at the University of Hertfordshire?

I trained here as a student midwife in 1998 and have been coming back ever since – first to do my Masters, then as a lecturer and a doctoral student!

What is your greatest achievement? This can be personal or related to your professional career.

My three fabulous sons are my greatest achievement without a doubt. My doctorate is my fourth baby though! I am so pleased to have contributed to something that might have an impact and make a difference for women, their babies and society.

Has there been anyone who has been a significant support in this achievement? For example, you could not have achieved what you did without them. This can be a male or female

My husband and my children for always encouraging me to do ‘my homework’ and for supporting me through the many nights I had to spend away from home, and the days I spent in prison undertaking fieldwork. My supervisors, Kathy and Tricia and my colleagues at UH were also very supportive, and colleagues in other universities in different academic fields have been a constant support.

Are there any women in your life who have been a role model? If yes who and why? This could be a member of your family, a friend or colleague or someone in the public eye.

There are so many! I think of all the amazing women at Birth Companions who support pregnant women and new mothers experiencing extreme disadvantage in prison and the community; they are all role models to me. My colleagues in our midwifery team (and the wider school) are always an inspiration to me and part of why UH is such a special place to work.

What made you want to carry out research in your current field?

I wanted to undertake research that would potentially make a difference to women who are invisible to society and marginalised because of their circumstances.

How is your research helping women?

I have been able to amplify women’s voices through presenting my work in a variety of ways: academic circles, the media and parliament. We understand more about the experiences of pregnant women in prison because of my research, and I am working with the government to help change policy. Change takes time but hopefully my research means that we will have better conditions and experiences for perinatal women in prison and a greater understanding of their needs.


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