Royal Astronomical Society planetary physicist Dr Sheila Kanani is part of the Women in Uniform project to break down gender barriers

Professional photographer Shy Burhan is working on a National Arts Council funded project called ‘Women in Uniform’ – and she has chosen a planetary physicist from St Annes to feature in her work.

She recently photographed Dr Sheila Kanani, who is also Head of Outreach and Diversity at the Royal Astronomical Society, for the project.

Dr Kanani, who received the MBE for services to astronomy and diversity in physics in this year’s New Year Honors list, hopes the exhibit will inspire younger generations.

Dr Sheila Kanani, from Lytham, who was photographed by Shy Burhan for her exhibition titled Women in Uniform

The 39-year-old said: “When I was growing up, I didn’t have an Asian physicist to look up to.

“It’s interesting because I don’t really see myself as a role model, but it’s accidentally quite powerful.

“People have preconceptions about who can do science or who becomes a doctor, so I hope to inspire the next generation.”

Dr. Sheila Kanani was previously a professor of physics and also has a research background in astrophysics and astronomy.

Photographer Shy Burhan

She is an author and regularly acts as a science ambassador by visiting schools and speaking at events.

Shy aims to feature at least 60 women in the exhibition and has so far photographed women working in sectors such as STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), psychotherapy, gynecology, astronomy, armed forces and construction.

She said, “Women in Uniform will celebrate the achievements of professional women of color in industries where we have traditionally been underrepresented.

“I hope this project will inspire young women, especially women of color, and make these sectors more accessible and challenging for them.

“I want them to see that barriers are there to be broken and glass ceilings are there to be broken.

“As a female photographer of South Asian descent, I am somewhat rare in my field that I have found.

“Furthermore, women of color (Black, Asian, Hispanic, Arab) who hold leadership positions in their respective industries are consistently outnumbered by their white and male counterparts. And yet, I know we exist because I exist.” figures, I invite UK-based BAHA women – including trans women of color – to be photographed for this mammoth project in a conceptual way that shares their individual truths, focusing on what their “uniform means to them.

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Shy, who is based in Shipley, West Yorkshire, is looking for more participants.

She added: “A recorded Zoom conversation first takes place to discuss the project, then I arrange to take their portraits at my Shipley-based studio, over a period of May 2022 to February 2023.”

The images will be used in a national exhibition which will launch on March 8, 2023 to coincide with International Women’s Day at the Haworth Art Gallery in Accrington and will run until May 14, 2023. To thank all participants, they will receive their own signed and mounted 10″ x 8″ gift portrait from the series. If you know someone who might be a suitable candidate, they can get in touch via email. [email protected]

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