A Word from IRWG Director, Anna Kirkland, Fall 2019


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photo of Anna Kirkland
photo of Anna Kirkland

September 20, 2019

Happiness research tells us that meaningful relationships and meaningful work make us happy. As researchers, we need to form interesting collaborations with others on campus. We need spaces and opportunities to talk about ideas and meet each other. It can be very hard to do that with days filled with teaching, meetings, and email. 

As IRWG Director, I create conditions for gender researchers across campus to meet each other and talk about ideas in ways that add meaning to our scholarly lives. We then build these ideas and collaborations into concrete research advantages, such as large scale grant proposals or lively feedback sessions on drafts.

Energized groups of faculty from across campus have come together at IRWG to plan for ambitious, large-scale external grant proposals in transgender health research, for example. We have a new partnership with the Michigan Institute for Clinical Health Research (MICHR), which has generously funded an expanded seed grant program over the next several years so we can cohere the dozens of research experts across campus who work in this area. We have held networking and brainstorming sessions, and plan a training grant proposal. Another set of faculty are collaborating on sexual harassment and gender-based violence research. This group builds on significant expertise among our faculty as well as seizes on the #metoo moment. They will be ready to provide national research leadership as funding agencies recognize the urgency of this topic area.

IRWG is lucky to enjoy connections with over 150 faculty members from 71 different units across the campus as affiliated faculty. All affiliated faculty are invited to participate in our newly inaugurated Expert Advisory Panels, which are convened by a member with a proposal that needs feedback and workshopping. Other affiliated faculty join in as their schedule and expertise allows, and we share a lunch or snacks and scholarly conversations to push the convening faculty member’s work forward. Please let me know if you’d like to propose a session!

We have also expanded our partnerships with the Mcubed program to reach out to faculty across all three campuses who may want to bring a gender element to expand a current Mcubed project. IRWG has funded a round of expansions to currently formed cubes, offering additional money as well as our event planning support, space in Lane Hall, and access to the Expert Advisory Panels to talk about women, gender, or sexuality in the research cube’s ambitions. We plan to continue working with Mcubed to form new relationships in Ann Arbor, Dearborn, and Flint.

Meaningful work, meaningful relationships, and great ideas are essential parts of our thriving as scholars. A final piece is gratitude – being able to recognize the great privilege we enjoy to be able to do the work we do every day. I thank all of you who create IRWG’s energy and resources, and invite you to join us.

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