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IKD PhD Hub on Gender and Social Policy

13 May 2021

On 28 April Nicola Yeates and Lorena Lombardozzi organised a PhD Hub focusing on gender and social policy postgraduate research at the Open University.

The event was an opportunity to reflect on bridging different languages, theories and challenges that different disciplines face in often similar ways. It brought together four different research projects from three disciplines across the School of Social Sciences and Global Studies at different stages of their research process.

The day started with a presentation by Lorena Lombardozzi who reflected on the methodological and theoretical implications of conducting fieldwork research on gender and women’s work in an agrarian setting.

The workshop then saw the presentations of four PhD students in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences:

Xenia Jones (Sociology third year) presented her empirical insights on Filipino workers. She wrote her reflections on the day on her blog. An extract is reported here:

“Taking part in the IKD (Innovation, Knowledge and Development) PhD Hub Workshop on Gender and Social Policy has allowed me to share my research with fellow PhD students, with researchers and with lecturers and experts who are in a position of experience with a wealth of knowledge that fosters the discussion on my subject of study. I presented from my research so far, drawing from it to create a Powerpoint Presentation that illustrated my topic: An ethnographic study of female Overseas Filipino Workers working in Taiwan's manufacturing industry. My study addresses a gap in the OFW and migrant transnational worker field – these women work in making things, in places of work that are highly industrial where they have been recruited en masse in part due to their nationality (bilateral agreements between Taiwan and the Philippines) and in part due to their gender. I am investigating ways of coping, interstitial spaces and cultural hybridity and, emergent in my study, the fundamental essentiality of the digital in their working and personal lives.

"As I reflect on the transformative context of the lives of the women I study, I also reflect on the transformative effect of the seminar I took part in – some of my own difficulties have been reflected and I find that I am not alone in the struggle of writing a dissertation. Further, I find the fundamentality of the digital in my academic pursuits as well, for the virtual space of the workshop that contained, facilitated and made dynamic the presentation, discourse and exchange of ideas has made me reflect on my own digital life and the essentiality of this third space becoming social fact in our times. As I listened to fellow presenters – Dr. Lorena Lombardozzi, Sarah Hadfield, Celia Bartlett and Angela Collins – sharing their research, I juxtaposed elements of my own to theirs, finding support in my experience, theorizing and difficulties in their own. As I listened to discussions led by Professor Nicola Yeates and later on Professor Jo Phoenix and Dr Ross Fergusson, I found myself reflecting on the wisdom of practice and expertise honed over time and experience. At the end of the workshop I find that hope and motivation that just might get my work further, that what I am doing might be of interest and service in these challenging times.”

Celia Bartlett (first year PhD candidate in DPP (Development Policy and Practice)) presented her work on political consumerism and gender. She said:

“I found the opportunity to meet with other researchers at the April 2021 IKD Gender and Social Policy Network workshop to be invaluable.  The sharing of ideas and experiences engendered synergies between researchers from a range of disciplines, looking at a diversity of topics, all with a gender focus, resulting in rich discussion. As a first year postgraduate researcher, the workshop was my first chance to share my research entitled From Ethical to Political? Consumerism and Gender: Context, Motivation and Expanding Political Repertoires, which focuses on the relationship between institutional norms and the contextual gendering of ethical consumerism, as the debate about its conceptualization as political grows. I am very much looking forward to future Gender and Social Policy Network events as I move forward with my research.”    

Sarah Hadfield (PhD candidate in Social Policy and Criminology) noted:

 “What and interesting day we had presenting our research to colleagues and peers at the OU. It was great to get together with those with a shared interest in social policy, gender and feminist methodologies. I presented my research on childfree young women’s experiences of employment insecurity and financial autonomy. My research cuts across discipline areas and contributes to the advancements of our understanding of the financial and economic lives of young people in England. My presentation focused on results from a survey with young women and findings from qualitative interviews. Findings on access to income from employment and the role credit cards and overdrafts play in the financial lives of young women since leaving education and starting employment were outlined.”

You can follow Sarah’s project updates on twitter @EmpResearcher  Her profile is @SarahHadfield16 and her most recent writing output is an SPA blog on Young Women’s Employment in COVID-19.

Angela Collins (PhD candidate in Social Policy and Criminology) noted:

The workshop was such an informative and interesting event. Listening to the presentations from those exploring similar themes but from different perspectives was fascinating and prompted lively discussions around issues of gender and social policy. In the final year of my PhD, I presented my research which is an ethnography of a Women’s Centre in the north of England. My research examines what a Women’s Centre is within the context of the criminal justice system and contributes to our understanding of community sentencing and the justice delivered to women accessing their services through a Women’s Centre.”

Angela was recently published in Humane Justice - What is the role of kindness, hope and compassion in the criminal justice system? which is free to download here.

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