International Women's Day: Dr Martina Doolan Q&A
What do/did you study at the University and what made you study here?
The nearest place to my home where I could improve my education was the University of Hertfordshire where I had started with a HND in Computer Studies. When I visited the Department of Computer Science to enquire about studying, the programme lead was very friendly and considerate of my childcare needs. He went out of his way and helped me to get a place in the nursery for my baby which enabled me to study. I have gone on to acquire a BSc, Masters and Doctorate facilitated by the infrastructure, services and people at the University of Hertfordshire.
What is your greatest achievement? This can be personal or related to your professional career
Being formally educated has transformed my life which has impacted my employability prospects, financial stability and overall quality of life and that of my family. It has given me access to different communities and the wherewithal to make the most of every opportunity, a voice to advocate for others and the tenacity to take risks and not to take no for an answer. In the words of George Bernard Shaw “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honourable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing”.
Are there any women in your life who have been a role model?
My mother was the most amazing person and a major influence on the woman that I have become today. I grew up with a shining example of how to: work hard, be honest and true to your word, be resilient and overcome challenges with consideration, respect, kindness and empathy. That being kind does not mean you are a push over, it is perfectly fine to be kind, it is not a sign of weakness. To be a people person, to care about the wellbeing of others, call out injustices and be yourself is honourable.
Have you ever experienced a barrier or a struggle due to your gender? If you overcame this, how did you do it?
Not explicitly, no matter the barrier I tend to navigate these and just get on with it. I think it is important not to listen to people who say you can’t do things, it is important to have a go and keep trying. As the American Inventor, R. Buckminster Fuller says, “We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims”.
What do you think society can do to advance gender equality?
Together men and women need to continue to push for commitment to achieving gender equality. To make change a reality we need to work together men and women as gender equality is not just a women’s issue it affects men too. To advance gender equality there is a need to break recurring conversations around gender as a women’s issue and move forward men and women together as allies so that everyone has the opportunity to meet their full potential no matter their gender.