IRWG Hosts Directors of North American Gender Research Institutes

photo of conference with small groups of people at round tables in conversation
Breakout discussions with institute directors
photo of conference with small groups of people at round tables in conversation
Breakout discussions with institute directors

On Monday, April 16, 2018, The Institute for Research on Women and Gender (IRWG), with support from the U-M Office of Research, hosted 23 representatives from 19 gender research institutes across the U.S. and Canada, for a day-long conference to discuss the current state of gender and sexuality research, some existing challenges within higher education, as well as direction and visions for the future.

The gathering was conceptualized by IRWG’s previous director, Sarah Fenstermaker, who envisioned this inaugural conference as an opportunity for gender research institute directors to form connections that would help each institute prosper and promote cutting edge feminist research.

Her successor, Anna Kirkland, who is Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Women's Studies and holds courtesy appointments in Sociology, Political Science, Health Management and Policy, says, “Michigan is a national leader in interdisciplinary research on gender, women, and sexuality. This event helped us learn from our peers and explore new ways to support our own faculty's growth and innovation."

Conference participants were directors and representatives from both public and private institutions including, but not limited to, the Institute for Research on Women at Rutgers University, the Center for the Study of Women at the University of California Los Angeles, the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center, the Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College, the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, the Institute for Gender Sexuality & Feminist Studies at McGill University, and more.

During the intensive working meeting, participants tackled a variety of topics of mutual concern -- including mission building, fundraising strategies, strengthening diversity in institutional leadership, and creating opportunities for new feminist research collaborations. Directors also shared institutional success stories, and reflected on best practices for communicating their research and programming efforts.

Attendees expressed enthusiasm for the meeting and the opportunity for connection across institutions. One attendee described the meeting as "a great opportunity to connect with experienced women in the field who were so generous about their successes as well as failures. What a rare treat!" The group is currently exploring options for further networking and continued convesations.

group photo

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