Earlier this month, Dr. Sofia Jawed-Wessel (biography at the end of this post) was featured in Cosmopolitan magazine as part of its “Sex Work” series. Dr. Jawed-Wessel spoke candidly about her journey to become a sex researcher, and the reactions she has received from others along the way (particularly her family). She has kindly shared with us more about her background and academic career — both of which have made her nervous about talking publicly about being a sex researcher.
See Dr. Sofia Jawed-Wessel’s interview with Cosmo: “How I Became A Sex Researcher.”
Dr. Sofia Jawed-Wessel On Her Cosmo Interview
I am a 31 year old, first-generation Pakistani-American woman who was raised by Muslim parents in Indiana. I also happen to be a sex researcher and educator. Last week Cosmopolitan.com released an interview featuring my path to becoming a sex researcher and I am so honored by the overwhelming positive response (holy crap, 1.2k shares!).
Although my 16-year-old self was giddy about the opportunity to be featured in Cosmo, I was hesitant to take the interview and incredibly anxious when it was released. I feel strongly about my work and abilities, but at the same time, I am frequently reminded that I should not be here. I am not accustomed to publicly, loudly hearing a voice that is similar to my own in academia. I am not comfortable with my own voice. When I go to campus and travel to conferences, I rarely meet others who look like me or have faced the same difficulties and barriers, especially within the field of sexuality. And in my personal life, it’s hard to ignore the embarrassment my parents feel about my career.
But each comment, share, and like on my interview has helped me feel more confident that not only is my work important, but my voice is too. Since last week, I received several messages from young women hoping to make it in academia asking for advice and to share their own struggles. For this, I am grateful to Cheryl Wischhover and Cosmo. Thank you for the opportunity to share my experience and connect with others!
Sofia Jawed-Wessel, PhD, MPH is an Assistant Professor of Public Health Health Education at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and the Assistant Director of the Midland Sexual Health Research Collaborative. Dr. Jawed-Wessel has a PhD in Health Behavior (2012) and a Master of Public Health (2008), both from Indiana University. Dr. Jawed-Wessel has collaborated on several projects and manuscripts related to women and men’s sexual health including sexual behaviors during pregnancy, sexual functioning after childbirth, condom development and use, the use of sexual enhancement products, sexual pleasure, and pelvic and genital pain in women. In addition, Dr. Jawed-Wessel has taught human sexuality from a sex-positive and pleasure inclusive approach to hundreds of undergraduates over the past five years.