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Studying the fairer sex
New Institute for Women & Gender offers research opportunities -- and more.
By Brian Abrams
Joanne Green made her academic mark at TCU by focusing on women in politics. But she's not the only faculty member who specializes in feminist studies; that's why, six months ago, the associate professor of political science spearheaded the creation of TCU's Institute on Women & Gender.
As director, Green intends for the newborn Institute to act as a guiding light for any university curriculum that focuses on "the cultural shaping of gender identities" as well as those undergraduate and graduate students seeking grants for gender-related research.
The Institute has already received more than $30,000 in grants, and allocation of the money for the inaugural research projects were announced at a March luncheon sponsored by Nokia, Inc., one of many companies financially supportive of the Institute.
What was the motivation behind starting this Institute?
There's a lot of great research being done in different departments: religion, art history, nursing, in my own college [AddRan], and communications. And there's actually a lot of controversy in biology about how men's and women's brains function and are wired differently. All these studies are being conducted on campus, but there was no coordination among this research.
What types of research projects are students interested in?
We haven't received all of the applications yet, but in the past we had students who examined the role of gender in the parliaments of Europe and why some parliaments have more female representation than others, like Sweden and Norway. And last year one doctoral candidate did a project on female images of God. Another studied women's roles in the U.S. military.
How much funding does a project like that require?
Students used to get $500 for a project, but now they can expect $600 and a Nokia telephone.
Are there subjects that interest you personally?
Of course, though the idea is to appeal to a variety of individuals. One I find interesting is at TCU's Center for Civic Literacy, which is sponsoring research on domestic abuse on campus through the Institute. Girls from ages 16 to 24 are three times more likely to be a victim, and we're promoting research with our own students as a prototype.
Domestic violence crosses all socio-economic levels. When you look at it, women who are affluent aren't necessarily less likely to be abused. And we'd eventually like to expand our work with the community. For example, we've already partnered with [the women's shelter] Safe Haven of Tarrant County.
Where do you anticipate this Institute being in
It's not designed exclusively for research. This year we're sponsoring two roundtable sessions where we'll try to solicit information from women on campus and the local community. Some of the ideas are to sponsor research symposiums and encourage creative activities in the fine arts. We only been in existence for six months, so we're really just starting off.
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