Name: Dr Aisha Hutchinson
Research institution: Faculty of Human and Social Sciences, University of Southampton
Research career length: 2 years
Research Council: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
Location: Southampton, England
Brief summary of research: International Social Work and Social Development
School qualifications: GCSEs: 9 A*- C grade
A-level: Psychology (B)
BTEC National Diploma in Social Care (Distinction)
Qualifications post-school: Diploma in Social Work (DipSW) at the University of Southampton
MSc in Social Work at the University of Southampton
MSc in Research Methods, University of Southampton
PhD in Social Work exploring the coping strategies of young women in Mozambique during unintended pregnancy
Qualified Social Worker in a statutory social work team with older persons
Voluntary work overseas in South Africa, Mozambique and Brazil, including working with street children, building children’s playground and working with young women
PhD and Master’s in Research Methods at the University of Southampton (4.5 years)
Part-time social worker in a community and hospital team whilst studying for my doctorate
Senior practitioner in a statutory social work team (1-year)
Research Fellowship at the Tilda Goldberg Centre for Social Work and Social Care (1-year)
ESRC postdoctorate fellowship to disseminate my findings and build a strong research career (1-year)
Principal investigator on research funded by ALR UK and Research Fellow on a child protection research project
Vulnerable groups are to be found in every society. In developing countries, where incomes are low and support limited, the role of social workers is often vital in reaching out to the most deprived people. Aisha Hutchinson applies her experience as a social worker, along with her academic skills to understand why some individuals and families cope better than others when facing difficult life experiences.
My research looks at how international social work and social development professionals can better support the social and economic development of vulnerable groups such as young women and children in developing and low-income contexts. I started out as a social worker with older people, then went on a round-the-world trip for eight months, during which time I was able to apply some of my skills through voluntary work - first in South Africa and Mozambique, for a non-governmental organisation (NGO), and then working with street children in Brazil. The whole experience captivated me and helped me to shape my future career path.
Further visits to Mozambique working with young women, encouraged me to take a Master’s degree in research methods and then a PhD in which the focus of my study was the coping strategies young women in Mozambique develop in response to unintended pregnancy. Since my vocational training overlaps with my research interests, I’ve been able to combine part-time work with study, as well as periodically spending time working in Africa.
My day-to-day job consists of a fair amount of data analysis, networking with other academics, visits to universities and research centres, and conference and seminar presentations. I submit articles for publication in academic journals and chapters in books.
I also contribute to writing proposals for further research funding and assess post-doctoral study applications and Undergraduate dissertations.
As you might expect, I frequently travel overseas, partly because of the international focus of my research, and partly because there exists a community of researchers throughout the world who are carrying out similar work. My most memorable experience was travelling around rural northern Mozambique with just a rucksack, interviewing young women. So far, I have attended international conferences in Chile, South Africa, Hong Kong, Croatia, Mexico, Switzerland and Northern Ireland.
I want my research to have significant impact and relevance to social work practice, and to the social problems encountered in the world. Research is about pushing boundaries in a way that is rigorous, systematic and original. It should also help us to understand more about the world and present better ways in which we can live together.