How I Spent My Summer at IRWG
by Tuğçe Kayaal
In summer 2020, I worked as a graduate student research assistant for IRWG's multidisciplinary gender-based violence (GBV) and sexual harassment project. In my academic research, I explore various forms of gender-based violence in different historical settings with a focus on the Middle East. This assistantship was my first job in which I had invaluable opportunities to research how gender-based and sexual violence affects professional climates in academic and non-academic settings.
Working with my supervisor, Jocelyn Stitt, and my colleague LaVelle Ridley, expanded my knowledge on available resources that we can employ to address issues surrounding gender- and sexuality-based discrepancies and marginalization. As a part of my research tasks, I attended training programs and workshops concerning transgender health and empowerment for different groups in and outside academia. Among these National Institutes of Health (NIH) workshops and Sexual Violence Research Initiative constituted essential research resources for me. These workshops introduced me to the research projects and initiatives in different academic institutions that address challenges the LGBTQ individuals experiencing in professional and social contexts. Such workshops and training programs allowed me to bring in ideas and suggestions for developing our GBV and sexual harassment project here at the University of Michigan. I could write reports on these workshops to share with my supervisor, IRWG's Director of Research Development, Jocelyn Stitt, which allowed me to brainstorm and contemplate further possibilities of expanding the scope and impact of GBV-related research across disciplines. I also highly engaged with the Sexual Violence Research Initiative's events and publications and compiled reports introducing resources (grant applications, training programs, post-doc, and other research opportunities) that could be useful for our GBV research initiative.
In addition to my individual research tasks, I had opportunities to collaborate with faculty members such as Elizabeth Armstrong and Anna Kirkland to create venues and develop new resources for the continuity of gender-based violence and transgender health-related research across the University of Michigan campuses. I worked with Elizabeth Armstrong to start virtual brown bag meetings to bring together faculty, graduate students, and researchers to share their research projects and papers on gender-based violence in professional and domestic settings. I assisted Anna Kirkland by putting together a timetable to apply for research grants to support research projects on GBV-related topics across disciplines.
Tuğçe Kayaal (she/her/hers) is a 2020-21 Holstein Fellow, CRLT Graduate Student Instructional Consultant, Ph.D. Candidate in Ottoman History and Culture in the Department of Middle East Studies, and enrolled in the Women's Studies Graduate Student Certificate Program at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. She spent this past summer as a research assistant at IRWG.