Junior Faculty Scholar: Sara McClelland

black and white photo of Sara McClelland
black and white photo of Sara McClelland

This article is part of the Fall 2015 issue of Genderscapes, IRWG's annual newsletter.

IRWG introduced the Junior Faculty Scholars Program for untenured Michigan faculty working in the fields of women, gender and/or sexuality during the 2013–14 academic year. Shazia Iftkahr and Victor Mendoza were our inaugural scholars. The JFS Program is designed to help Michigan’s newest faculty members to achieve tenure and promotion through course relief and office space at IRWG. Sara McClelland (Women’s Studies and Psychology) spent 2014–15 as the third Junior Faculty Scholar.

Sara McClelland’s research focuses on what women feel they deserve in their intimate relationships and how this shapes the kinds of support they receive (or don’t receive) throughout their lifetimes. She has two lines of research where she has examined this important topic. Her Intimacy and Sexual Quality of Life research is an interdisciplinary collaboration with Jennifer Griggs, M.D. (U-M, Oncology). With Griggs, McClelland has examined how women with metastatic breast cancer describe what kinds of support they need to maintain their quality of life. These data aim to guide health care professionals providing support for ill and aging patients.

In her Queer Youth Study, McClelland collaborated with José Bauermeister, Ph.D. (U-M, Public Health). McClelland analyzed interviews with young lesbian and bisexual women to better understand how young people describe their early experiences of same-sex sexual attraction. Previously, there had been little research on how young women’s own attractions and personal experiences are shaped by social forces such as homophobia and prejudice. McClelland’s study asked questions such as, “What is the role of sexual attraction in shaping subsequent sexual identities? How are early experiences of same-sex attraction shaped by peer, family, school, and community responses?”

McClelland described the support she received as a Junior Faculty Scholar as being crucial to her progression as a scholar. She noted, “the IRWG fellowship offered support for writing at a very useful time in my career. I had collected data for these two projects and needed time to write up articles for publication. The fellowship offered time to concentrate on writing and time to develop ideas.” McClelland was able to submit seven journal manuscripts and present at four national conferences during her IRWG fellowship.

When asked if she would recommend this opportunity to others, McClelland replied “It’s an amazing fellowship that would be incredibly helpful to junior faculty across the campus.” 

Sara McClelland - Fast Facts:

  • Received PhD in Social/Personality Psychology in 2009 from the Graduate Center, City University of New York
  • Started at U-M as three-year post-doctoral fellowship in the Michigan Society of Fellows in 2009
  • Began a tenure track position as Assistant Professor in Women’s Studies and Psychology in 2012 

Learn more about IRWG's Junior Faculty Scholars program here.

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