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Our Inspiring Role Models

Dr Sheila Cunningham - Senior Lecturer in the Psychology Division

Sheila is a Senior Lecturer in the Psychology Division.

Tell us about your career…

I completed a BSc then PhD in Psychology at the University of Aberdeen, graduating in 2004. About halfway through my PhD I had my first baby and ever since then I've worked part-time, taking some time out to have my other two children along the way. I was a Research Fellow at Aberdeen for six years before coming to Abertay as a lecturer in 2011. I was promoted to senior lecturer in 2015.

Aspirations growing up…

I was always interested in science and understanding how things work, but it wasn't until I came to university and took a psychology module that I discovered my interest in both psychology as a subject, and research as a career. I decided in the third year of my degree that I wanted my lecturer's job, and I didn't really consider anything else after that.

Inspired by…

I know some female professors who have made it to the top while also mentoring and supporting others, particularly other women. I've always seen them as an example to try to follow.

Advice for young women…

I was told that having a baby would be the end of my career (yes really!), and it was made clear to me that if I wanted to be taken seriously in academia I would have to work full-time and have someone else bring up my children. I chose not to do that, and in reality it hasn't made any difference to my career except perhaps making progress more gradual. I haven't been aware of missing out at home or at work, I've just become very, very efficient! Ultimately, the quality of your work will speak for itself.