Announcing 2019 Graduate Student Research Awards

image of abstract colors and lines with text reading"2019 Graduate Student Research Fellowships"
image of abstract colors and lines with text reading"2019 Graduate Student Research Fellowships"

The Institute for Research on Women and Gender has awarded 11 graduate students funding to support wide-ranging projects related to women, gender, and sexuality.

Two Boyd/Williams Dissertation Grants were awarded for projects related to women and work. Through this award, IRWG supports projects that promote knowledge about and enhance understanding of the complexities of women’s roles in relation to their paid and unpaid labor (e.g., philanthropy, volunteerism, community involvement, domestic work, and political activity). This prestigious dissertation fellowship is named for two sisters: Ruth Rodman Boyd (1892-1981), a longtime community activist, and Shirley Rodman Williams (1894-1999), who had a long career in the Detroit business community.

Ten IRWG/Rackham Community of Scholars summer fellowships were granted to students from disciplines in the humanities, social sciences, public health, and education who are engaged in scholarly research or other creative projects focusing on women, gender or sexuality.

All awardees participate in a weekly interdisciplinary seminar during May and June, with time for individual research during July and August. Awardees will present their work at a public symposium in Fall 2019. The students were selected from a highly competitive pool. Their diverse set of projects demonstrates the scope of women and gender studies at U-M.

Boyd/Williams Dissertation Grant recipients and their projects are:

Traci Carson, PhD Candidate, Epidemiology, School of Public Health
“Qualitative Investigation of Low Energy Availability in Current and Former NCAA Division One Female Distance Runners”
The Female Athlete Triad (Triad) is a medical condition consisting of low energy availability (EA) and irregular menstrual cycles, leading to low bone mineral density. Female runners are at high risk of low EA due to sport training and pressures to be lean; yet, the cultural narratives around body image and dietary practices that encourage low EA, and its impact on psychological health, are not well understood. This project aims to address this gap through a qualitative study of 30 female collegiate runners.

Kathrina Robotham, PhD Candidate, Psychology, College of LSA
“Promoting Respect as a Solution to Workplace Harassment”

Sexual harassment remains ubiquitous at work, despite organizational policies and training. Given this, experts have proposed that organizations may be more effective if they establish norms for respect more generally. Such efforts would shift the focus from symbolic legal compliance with anti-discrimination laws to emphasis on positive interactions and discouragement of disrespect (regardless of its legal standing). However, few studies have examined whether promoting a climate of respect coupled with more specific anti-harassment efforts can be an effective tool against sexual harassment. This project will explore how norms for respect may (or may not) mitigate sexually harassing behavior.

IRWG / Rackham Community of Scholars Fellowship recipients and their projects are:

Jennifer Alzate, PhD Candidate, History, College of LSA
“Tumblr is for Social Justice Warriors: Women of color feminist Tumblr and feminist consciousness-raising online”
This project examines the digital pedagogies of women of color feminist Tumblr, a community of Tumblr users whose reblogging of feminist educational materials challenges hierarchies of knowledge-production. Using digital humanities methods and a historical view of women of color feminist organizing, these Tumblrs harness social media as an alternative feminist classroom space which reimagines who feminist theory is for. By analyzing this grassroots online feminist pedagogy, this work joins emergent critiques of the digital humanities by centering questions of race, gender, sexuality, and the transformation of social media platforms into powerful tools of feminist (re)education.

Molly Brookfield, PhD Candidate, History and Women’s Studies, College of LSA
“Watching the Girls Go By: Citizenship and Sexual Harassment in the American Street, 1850-1980”

From their first forays into American urban space, women have endured uninvited sexual remarks, stares, and touching from male strangers in public places. This dissertation details the emergence, persistence, and normalization of these intrusive behaviors in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Drawing on archival materials such as newspapers, legislation, interviews, and personal papers, this dissertation demonstrates that men’s harassment of women in public has contributed to women’s fear of violence in public space and limited their freedom of mobility. It argues that sexual harassment curtailed women’s access to, and power within, American urban space even as that access grew.

Traci Carson, PhD Candidate, Epidemiology, School of Public Health
Qualitative Investigation of Low Energy Availability in Current and Former NCAA Division One Female Distance Runners”

The Female Athlete Triad (Triad) is a medical condition consisting of low energy availability (EA) and irregular menstrual cycles, leading to low bone mineral density. Female runners are at high risk of low EA due to sport training and pressures to be lean; yet, the cultural narratives around body image and dietary practices that encourage low EA, and its impact on psychological health, are not well understood. This project aims to address this gap through a qualitative study of 30 female collegiate runners.

Anne Clark, PhD Candidate, Sociology, College of LSA
“I’m Just Not a ‘Math Person’: Categorically Different Identities and their Development by Gender”

While extensive research has shown that boys have a higher average math identity than girls, the gender gap in how many children consider themselves “math people” is unclear. Averages obscure heterogeneity in categorically different senses of self that individuals develop based on multiple possible sources of identity. This study identifies trajectory groups of math identity relative to an alternate source of identity, reading, among third to eighth graders in a nationally representative data set. Findings suggest that although gender inequality in math identity is significant, both boys and girls are more likely to prefer math to reading by eighth grade.

Stephanie Fajardo, PhD Candidate, History, College of LSA
"'Hanggang Pier Ka Lang': G.I. Romances and the Woman Left Behind"

This dissertation explores the U.S. military’s efforts to manage intimate relationships between American soldiers and Filipino women after the Second World War and the discourse of illicit intimacies that emerged and circulated within Philippine culture as a result. Through an analysis of a U.S. military records, Philippine cultural productions, and oral history, Fajardo documents the ways in which diverse forms of intimacy (prostitution, marriages, friendships, and other forms of sociality) became linked and associated with illicit sexuality. This work contributes to the history of prostitution in the Philippines by underlining the ways that discourses affected not only those involved in sexual labor but women in Philippine society more broadly.

Emily Gauld, PhD Candidate, Germanic Languages and Literature, College of LSA
“Composing the Musicking Woman: Gender and Nation in the Writings of Johanna Kinkel”

This dissertation analyzes literary representations of women’s involvement in German musical life around 1848. The “musicking woman” simultaneously inhabited the roles of the social, political, learned, married, and other(ed) woman to reshape current understandings of how women participated in and added to pertinent and timely conversations on national identity. Bringing the works of writer and composer Johanna Kinkel (1810-1858) into conversation with her contemporaries, Gauld considers the unique class position of the musicking woman in public, private, and social life as a way of better understanding how women contributed to ongoing constructions of social identity vis-a-vis gender and nation.

Chelle Jones, PhD Candidate, Sociology, College of LSA
“Transnational Patchwork Migration: LBTQ Migrant Mobility, Labor, and Family Building in South Korea”

This dissertation examines lesbian, bisexual, and queer women and trans skilled labor migrants as they navigate inconsistent transnational LGBTQ rights. Using ethnographic research based in South Korea, where homosexuality is neither criminalized, nor protected through same-sex relationship rights or anti-discrimination policies, Jones explores how LBTQ couples maintain mixed citizenship families. Jones argues that LBTQ migrants leverage skills and passport power to adopt a patchwork migration strategy to shop around multiple destinations for favorable jurisdictions to pursue upward mobility by establishing legal statuses, accessing gender identity affirmation and fertility treatments, and building business and career credentials.

Michelle May-Curry, PhD Candidate, American Culture, College of LSA
“The Mixed-Race Movement Girl: Coming of Age 1966-1980”

This project centers narratives told from the perspective of the “Movement Girl,” or the mixed-race black and white daughter of civil rights and Black Power activists who comes of age between 1966-1980. May-Curry considers the use of visual imagery and the Bildungsroman narrative arch as cultural tools used by modern subjects to represent and explain their relationship to society, arguing that these texts leverage the gendered and sexual identities of the multiracial black girl-child to explore how audiences visually encounter race in the 20th century.

Kamaria Porter, PhD Candidate, Higher Education, School of Education
“Speaking Into Silence: Intersections of Identity, Legality, and the Decision to Report Sexual Violence on Campus”

This dissertation aims to understand what factors influence Black and White women’s decisions to report sexual violence to their university. Grounded in Black Feminist Thought and socio-legal studies, the conceptual framework demonstrates how perceptions of the law and availability of resources to prevail in court are shaped by intersecting systems of oppression and privilege, especially race and gender. Using trauma informed narrative inquiry, Porter elicits interview and visual narratives from survivors to examine how their intersecting identities, narratives of the law and Title IX, and the campus context influenced their decision to report or not.

Zach Schudson, PhD Candidate, Psychology and Women’s Studies, College of LSA
“Beliefs about Gender/Sex: Heterogeneity, Links to Prejudice, and Pro-diversity Interventions”

This dissertation investigates heterogeneity in individuals’ beliefs about gender/sex and seeks to develop an intervention for reducing prejudice against gender/sex minorities (transgender and gender diverse individuals). Schudson examines variation in individuals’ definitions of gender/sex categories (i.e., woman/man, feminine/masculine, female/male) and constructs a Gender/Sex Beliefs Scale, a novel survey measure of beliefs about gender/sex theoretically pertinent to gender/sex minority identities. Finally, Schudson will test the efficacy of an education and self-reflection based intervention for reducing prejudice-linked beliefs. Ultimately, this project aims to facilitate efforts toward greater public understanding of gender/sex diversity.


IRWG graduate fellowships are offered once per year. 

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