”I hope I can prove to other women just like me that we are deserving and we can do it!”
To commemorate International Women’s Day 2022, we spoke to women who are #BreakingTheBias and inspiring us daily. Dr Adaku Jennifer Agwunobi is a Postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oxford in the Department of Engineering Science, working on orthopaedic clinical tooling. Often described as a lady of all trades, Dr Adaku is an entrepreneur, health researcher, creative, author, and singer/songwriter who recently released her debut album “the vibes are known”.
She was the first Black doctoral researcher to obtain a Ph.D. at Loughborough University London, with a focus on the well-being of Black entrepreneurs. She has two Masters degrees: an MSc in Health Economics and MSc in Marketing (with Distinction). Additionally, her first degree was BSc (Hons) in Economics.
She recently won an Oxford Hub Social Enterprise Award for her tech-savvy natural hair care and wellness brand called hairgoals.
What does breaking the bias mean to you?
As a researcher, ‘bias’ means a lot of things haha. With regards to gender bias, I break that by challenging myself by doing what is assumed that cannot be done. For example, there aren’t many Black women that occupy the Ph.D. space but I hope I can prove to others just like me that we are deserving and we can do it! This can be in the context of absolutely everything, show up to spaces and literally make a seat at the table. Then bring others along too, I believe we rise by lifting others too. Also, stay humble and be nice!
As the first black doctoral researcher to obtain a Ph.D. at Loughborough university, what steps did you take to achieve this goal?
The most important thing is having a vision in mind and being driven by passion and purpose. I think these make all the difference! It means that you’re able to self-motivate yourself to do tasks that you would have otherwise procrastinated. Some other more practical tips are: break everything down to manageable steps to avoid overwhelming yourself, integrate activities into your day that bring you joy in order to boost your well-being, and most importantly – take time to rest! Body no be firewood!
What advice would you give to young females looking to break the bias and make history in male-dominated fields?
Honestly, just go for it. Write down what you want to do and work out the roadmap needed to get there. Again, break this down into manageable steps and set yourself realistic deadlines. This is easier said than done, but sometimes we spend too much time thinking about what we want to do rather than thinking about what we actually need to do to make it happen. It’s all baby steps of course, and it all requires focused consistency, but you can start. Also, it’s important to not trick yourself into believing that you don’t deserve to be somewhere because it’s not true!
“I am driven by purpose and passion so a lot of these things are outlets to me which contribute to my overall vision and also wellbeing”
As a lady of many talents (author, health researcher, songwriter, artist, entrepreneur) – how do you balance it all?
I’m driven by purpose and passion so a lot of these things are outlets to me which contribute to my overall vision and also well-being. I always tell people to do all that their heart desires and you’ll see how much of a difference it makes to your life! A practical tip – make time for rest, I know this seems counterproductive, but rest is very productive. I don’t play when it comes to it! You need to allow your body to heal when you sleep and your mind to relax too. It allows you to tackle the day with strength.
“Everyone’s journey is different, so don’t compare yourself to others. This is very important.”