IRWG-Mcubed research incentive grants announced


A new research incentive from the Institute for Research on Women and Gender and Mcubed seeks 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 University of Michigan units to find faculty teams that are working in a particular area, incentivize the formation of cubes to explore the area of interest or both.

Through this program, IRWG awarded six Mcubed faculty teams more than $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:

Sexual Assault Discourse and the #MeToo Movement

Faculty Team: Francine Banner and Pamela Aronson (sociology, UM-Dearborn), Lisa Martin (health policy studies, and women’s and gender studies, UM-Dearborn), and Maureen Linker (philosophy, UM-Dearborn)

This team plans to conduct survey research evaluating the responses of U-M 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 U-M 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.

The Critical Role of Women in Shifting Local Guyanese Communities from Artisanal Mining to Conservation

Faculty Team: Aline Cotel (College of Engineering), Karen Alofs (School for Environment and Sustainability), Hernan Lopez-Fernandez (ecology and evolutionary biology, LSA)

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.

Campus Climate and Mental Health Through the Lens of Gender and Sexuality

Faculty Team: Daniel Eisenberg (health management and policy, School of Public Health), Tabbye Chavous and Rob Sellers (School of Education, and psychology, LSA)

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 or ethnicity, or year in school, as well as exploring how rates of discrimination, sense of safety, and belonging varies across student groups.

Sleep and Gender: The Experience of Sleep and Menopause in Working-Class Women in Mexico City

Faculty Team: Erica Jansen and Karen Peterson (School of Public Health), and Elizabeth Roberts (anthropology, LSA)

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.

Enhancing Informal Electronic Waste Recycling Tools and Methods: Preferences Among Women Workers

Faculty Team: Richard Neitzel (environmental health science, School of Public Health), Shobita Parthasarathy (Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy), and Sara Adar (epidemiology, School of Public Health)

This research team seeks to add a gender dimension to its current study of workers in Kalasin, Thailand, who disassemble waste electronics (such as televisions and refrigerators) to recover materials such as steel and copper.

More than 60 percent of the 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 its study to examine differences in preferences by gender. The research team plans to consult with IRWG faculty affiliates through Expert Advisory Panels on its study design and survey questions to improve its understanding of the unique challenges facing female workers.

Katherine Behar Artist-in-Residence

Faculty Team: Christian Sandvig (School of Information), Irina Aristarkhova (Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design), and Stephani Rosen (U-M Libraries)

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” 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.


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