Updated: Nov 16, 2022
Our research group (and the Institute that supports us) is fundamentally about coming together across traditional boundaries in research - to work in ways that are always interdisciplinary, intersectoral, and intersectional. Our ethos is to seek out and thrive in the spaces in between and approach problems from multiple perspectives to simultaneously consider the who, where, when, how, why, and how much of the wicked problem of gender inequality. But this is challenging even in the best of times...
In mid 2022, after several waves of COVID-19 illness had swept the UK, leading to lockdowns, working isolation and researchers having their attention demanded by multiple other priorities - constant changes to research restrictions, a delayed REF assessment, and never-ending changes to teaching modes to name a few - we needed time to reset.
Before I go on, it's important to say that the challenges in academia are of course tiny in comparison to the landscape of rapid and dramatic increases in gender inequality itself caused by the pandemic. The WHO and UN agencies estimate that millions more women and girls have experienced unsafe abortion and birth, gender based violence and been forced into poverty.
With the renewed urgency of growing inequality in mind, on 22nd June we headed a few miles outside Birmingham for our first theme Away Day. Conscious of the progress we want to make, I put together a bumper agenda, starting with a summary of progress and aims, before the research team was charged with briefly taking each other through their current portfolios of theme work.
And then something unexpected happened. The discussions took on a life of their own and my neat agenda was quietly abandoned. Instead, the next 6 hours was spent getting totally immersed and completely lost in each others' work and perspectives. The whole team was reignited by just finally having the opportunity to get together to think and talk and ask silly and probing and difficult and sometimes truly heart-breaking questions together.
This 'organic' approach was cathartic, but left us with dozens of potential ideas to pursue across research, engagement, partnership working and impact. So it seems only right that the next step is to throw it out for wider perspectives. First of all we'll be looking for ideas for small research projects in one of our emerging topics of interest:
Respectful maternity care
Gender equality over the life-course
Understanding ‘hard to observe’ aspects of gender inequality
Changing attitudes to sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights (especially miscarriage and abortion) and service provision
Women’s experiences of migration and incarceration
Traditional, indigenous, and cultural knowledge and gender roles
The changing role of technology in gender-based violence (in causation, reporting, access to justice or survivor support)
Please get in touch at email@example.com if you have a project idea you'd like to explore and keep an eye out for funding, events, and discussions related to these areas of interest on our opportunities page. Or to stay up to date with all our goings on and opportunities, sign up for our monthly newsletter. Or to start the discussions here and perhaps suggest other areas or priorities, why not leave a comment below?