Reflections on the PGRNS Workshop

We held our first work-in-progress workshop at the Glasgow Women’s Library (GWL) on Wednesday 12th April. Postgraduate researchers from institutions across Scotland, working in a myriad of disciplines, joined together to share insights and gain feedback on their work in gender-related research.

The morning was spent in small groups, where each participant received extensive commentary on the work-in-progress paper they’d submitted before the event. Academic mentors were assigned to each group, and in the afternoon (after some excellent GWL food) the mentors discussed their own engagement with gender research.

The room was buzzing with genuine enthusiasm for the research represented and in the roundtable participants voiced their appreciation for the opportunity to discuss draft work within the informal and supportive network. But don’t take our word on it! Two participants penned reflections on their experience of the day.

Casey Bevens, grouped with academic mentor Professor Sharon Cowan wrote:

My name is Casey Bevens, and I am working on a PhD in social psychology researching the role of sexual objectification and dehumanization in men’s sexual aggression. I thought the PGRNS Work in Progress event provided a really intellectually refreshing experience of meeting with people beyond my discipline, within the common interest thread of gender, and it helped me gain some new perspectives as I returned to my work this week. I enjoyed meeting new people and discussing topics outside my daily routine, and I know from talking to others on the day that the experience of interdisciplinary discussion was generally considered valuable beyond just myself. It is so easy within departments to only have methodological concerns in common, feel isolated in your interests, and end up talking past one another. This event was a great reminder that the issues we work so hard on are important to people outside our own little work stations. I enjoyed discovering a cool new venue, and thought the format of splitting us into groups with some general theme was really helpful in creating flow within discussions. It was also nice to counter-balance a day of hard thinking with some relaxed socializing at the end of the day and make new connections. I look forward to future events within the network!

Lakshmi-Pearl Quigley, grouped with academic mentor Dr Catherine Spencer wrote:

Gender, Feminism, and a thoroughly interdisciplinary day at the Glasgow Women’s Library

What does it mean to be a researcher in gender? How can gender researchers make overt their commitment to feminism? Is it in the nature of feminist research that it is interdisciplinary? These are just some of the questions we posed on Wednesday 12th of April. The stellar team of organisers who were the brains behind this work-in-progress workshop at the Glasgow Women’s Library, make up the founding members of the Postgraduate Gender Research Network Scotland. I am sure that all of those of us who were lucky enough to participate are grateful to the team for making the day happen in what was a fruitful day of truly interdisciplinary discussion and creativity.

The opportunity to discuss our pieces in such depth with an engaged and informed audience was unique. What struck me the most within my own group was the insight provided by fresh perspectives from those outside my discipline. My group was an eclectic mix of researchers in art history, sociology, urban planning, film studies, and my own discipline, history.

After our group discussions, we had a question and answer with academics from Scottish Universities. Insights came from experts who crossed disciplinary boundaries, from Law to the History of Medieval Europe. We finished the day with a roundtable discussion about future directions and projects for the network and headed for a post-workshop pint and dinner.

This day underlined the versatility of research in the field of Gender. It seemed to me that one of the functions of feminist practice most dear to me was alive and well. A feminist interrogation that continuously queries disciplinary boundaries; that insists on appropriation, intervention, and borrowing from a mix of different fields, was put into practice on this day at the Glasgow Women’s Library.

Professor Sharon Cowan presents her approaches to gender research.

Interested in joining us at our next event? The CFP deadline for our conference is 5 pm April 21st! 

– Lois Burke (with guest appearances from Casey Bevans and Lakshmi-Pearl Quigley)

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