IRWG-Mcubed Research Incentive Grants Announced

Blue square with Mcubed and IRWG logos. Research Incentive Awards
Blue square with Mcubed and IRWG logos. Research Incentive Awards

January 2020

A new research incentive from IRWG and Mcubed sought to build upon scholarship and research collaborations. Mcubed distributes real-time seed funding to multi-unit, faculty-led teams. The Mcubed Incentive Program provides a mechanism for U-M units to find faculty teams that are working in a particular area; and/or incentivize the formation of cubes to explore the area of interest.

Through this program, IRWG awarded six Mcubed faculty teams over $48,000 in additional funding and support to incorporate gender or feminist perspectives into their existing research projects. 

Beyond the financial awards, IRWG provides administrative support in the form of event-planning, access to faculty expert advisory panels, and office space in Lane Hall.

The awarded projects are listed below.

Faculty Team: Francine Banner (Sociology, UM Dearborn), Pamela Aronson (Sociology, UM Dearborn), Lisa Martin (Health Policy Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies, UM Dearborn), and Maureen Linker (Philosophy, UM Dearborn)
Project Title: Sexual Assault Discourse and the #MeToo Movement

This team plans to conduct survey research evaluating the responses of University of Michigan faculty and staff to recent mandatory sexual harassment training videos provided by the university. With the help of student research assistants, the team plans to survey faculty and staff at all University of Michigan campuses regarding topics such as their understanding of the definitions of sexual harassment and assault, options for acting as bystanders or allies, and avenues for reporting after having viewed these mandatory video trainings, as they relate to perceptions of the #metoo movement. IRWG support will be used to conduct focus group and individual interviews to obtain in-depth qualitative data regarding the impact and effectiveness of these videos in increasing understanding about what constitutes sexual assault and harassment, as well as sponsoring events to disseminate findings to the university community.

Faculty Team: Aline Cotel (Engineering), Karen Alofs (SEAS), Hernan Lopez-Fernandez (Ecology & Evolutionary Biology)
Project Title: The Critical Role of Women in Shifting Local Guyanese Communities from Artisanal Mining to Conservation

The Guiana Shield of northern South America is both one of the most diverse regions of the Neotropics and one of the most strongly impacted by mining of gold, bauxite and other minerals. As a result of uncommon topographical isolation, the upper Mazaruni River in Guyana houses one of the largest proportions of endemic freshwater fish diversity in the Neotropical region, making the upper Mazaruni an important area for understanding the interplay of evolutionary and ecological diversification. The research team’s long-term goal is to help the local communities and government create an ecological reserve or conservation area in the region in order to safeguard this unique ecosystem. Support from IRWG will be used to add a gendered component to their fieldwork. This includes developing a survey to better understand the roles of women as stakeholders in local villages, and building connections with community members to facilitate the creation of a conservation region. 

Faculty Team: Daniel Eisenberg (Health Management and Policy, Public Health), Tabbye Chavous (Education and Psychology), and Rob Sellers (Psychology and Education)
Project Title: Campus Climate and Mental Health Through the Lens of Gender and Sexuality

This interdisciplinary group will create tools to share new data on campus climate and diversity from the Healthy Minds Study, a national, annual web-based survey of college student mental health. The new data includes student perceptions of campus climate, experiences of discrimination, equitable treatment, sense of belonging, sense of safety, social support, racial and ethnic identity, awareness of campus DEI-related policies, and other related issues. IRWG will support further data analysis with a particular focus on gender and sexuality—such as expanding the survey’s gender categories so that users can make comparisons across cisgender and gender minority students as well as comparisons across subgroups of gender minorities. Data will help users identify how mental health varies by gender, race/ethnicity, or year in school, as well as exploring how rates of discrimination, sense of safety, and belonging varies across student groups.

Faculty Team: Erica Jansen (Public Health), Elizabeth Roberts (Anthropology), and Karen Peterson (Public Health)
Project Title: Sleep and Gender: The Experience of Sleep and Menopause in Working-Class Women in Mexico City

Epidemiological evidence suggests that women experience certain sleep disturbances, notably insomnia, to a much greater extent than men. While some of the sex differences in sleep disturbances could be due to biological differences, there are also likely societal, familial, and social pressures that could affect sleep differently in women versus men. Sleep also varies along the reproductive lifespan for women, and menopause is a particularly sensitive period often marked by hot flashes and sleep disruptions. This study aims to explore the drivers of sleep among working class perimenopausal women in Mexico City, using both epidemiological and qualitative methods. IRWG funding will support collection of detailed interviews on sleep from 30 women in Mexico City. Researchers will conduct these interviews in participant homes and will create sleep maps of where and how these women sleep. Ultimately, these interviews and sleep maps will help researchers think more broadly about how the experience of sleep differs for women versus men. 

Faculty Team: Richard Neitzel (Environmental Health Science, Public Health), Shobita Parthasarathy (Public Policy), and Sara Adar (Epidemiology, Public Health)
Project Title: Enhancing Informal Electronic Waste Recycling Tools and Methods: Preferences Among Women Workers

This research team seeks to add a gender dimension to their current study of workers in Kalasin, Thailand, who disassemble waste electronics (e.g., televisions, fridges) to recover materials such as steel and copper. Over 60% of their study’s participants were injured on the job, with men and women experiencing differences in causation and type of injury. The MCubed project aims to develop a novel dismantling tool that will simultaneously reduce occupational injury, promote worker efficiency, and be a viable, stand-alone solution. One aspect of the study is the utilization of participant knowledge and ideas in the tool design, including safety, price, and blade configuration. Funding from IRWG will be used to help the team expand their study to examine differences in preferences by gender. The research team plans to consult with IRWG faculty affiliates through Expert Advisory Panels on their study design and survey questions to improve their understanding of the unique challenges facing female workers.

Faculty Team: Christian Sandvig (School of Information), Irina Aristarkhova (Art & Design), and Stephani Rosen (Libraries)
Project Title: Katherine Behar Artist-in-Residence

Support from IRWG was used to sponsor an artist residency last semester. Katherine Behar is an interdisciplinary media and performance artist and Associate Professor of Art at Baruch College. She is known among scholars of gender for her work connecting art and feminist theory and for her artistic practice that interrogates technology and topics such as appearance, body image, obesity, gender identity, and race. Behar spent her time at U-M collaborating with the "The Future of Ethics, Society, and Computing" (ESC) cube and building robots (along with students and U-M collaborators) for a public exhibition. IRWG’s award included financial support, studio space in Lane Hall for Behar’s team to work, and administrative, technical, and event support. The group presented a community demonstration of the artist’s work in progress, Anonymous Autonomous, in December in the Duderstadt Gallery.

Learn more about Mcubed.

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