2020 - 2021 Seed Grant Winners

Fall Winners

Vickie Wang - School of Medicine

Assessing LGBTQI+ Patients’ Experiences in the Emergency Department: Although immense progress has been made in addressing LGBTQI+ health disparities, education and training for healthcare providers on these issues are still lacking. This study aims to identify gaps in training by evaluatingLGBTQI+ patients’ overall perceptions of Yale emergency medicine physicians’ comfort and competency in LGBTQI+ patientcare. Individuals representing diverse identities within the LGBTQI+ community will be recruited to participate in open-ended interviews about their healthcare experience(s). Interview responseswill be analyzedfor overarching themes todrive discussion of current successes and failures in LGBTQI+ patient care. In line with the 2019-20 theme of “Visible/Invisible”, this study brings visibility to the lived experiences of members of the LGBTQI+ community.LGBTQI+ identities are often made invisible due to societally-informed assumptions of heterosexuality and gender expectations; however, the consequences of ignorance and prejudice regarding LGBTQI+ identities cannot beignored.Moreover, advocating for the LGBTQI+ community is deeply intertwined with the Women Faculty Forum’s mission of fostering gender equity, as many of the same patriarchal beliefs underlie sexism, misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia. LGBTQI+ women in particular are confronted with discrimination on multiple fronts, and any scholarship or advocacy done to advance the cause of women must include LGBTQI+ women.

Rosie Aboody - Department of Psychology

If he’s challenging her, she must not know: The impact of questions on women’s credibility: Women in male-dominated fields report being challenged more frequently than their male peers. In addition to making women feel unwelcome, do these questions also serve to devalue their credibility? In preliminary work, we find that they do: upon observing a student questioning a woman’s testimony, adults infer that the student did not believe the woman. Worse, adults inferred that she must have actually been ignorant: later on, they did not want to learn from her. Without knowing anything about the student’s credibility as a questioner, adults still inferred that the woman he questioned must have lacked knowledge. In set of four experiments, we would like to better understand how adults infer a speaker’s credibility in the face of questioning. And in two additional experiments, we would like to investigate the developmental origins of these judgments, revealing whether they are learned over development or deeply ingrained. These results have important implications for women’s advancement, particularly in male-dominated fields — and can highlight ways to prevent women’s abilities from being unjustly (and sometimes even unknowingly!) devalued.

Marius Kothor - Department of History

Bridging the Border: Women, Migration, and Trade in Ghana: The Nana Benz are powerful cultural icons in West Africa. Beginning in the 1950s, this group of women textile traders built a massive commercial fortune through the distribution of Dutch-wax textiles. Although the women were based in Togo, the majority of them had extensive family and trade networks in Ghana. My dissertation examines how the Nana Benz’s travels to Ghana in the mid-twentieth century shaped their political ideology and anti-colonial activism. If selected for a Women’s Faculty Forum Seed grant, I would purchase a laptop and hire a research assistant based in Ghana to help me obtain archival documents about the Nana Benz in the national archives in Accra, Ghana. I have received nationally competitive fellowships to support my research abroad. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, however, I am currently unable to travel to Ghana but the archives in the country remain open and safe to work in. Once I am able to travel to Ghana in person, I will complete my archival research in the Public Archives and Records Administration (PRAAD) in the cities of Accra and Ho. I will also conduct in-depth interviews with the families and close associates of the Nana Benz. My native fluency in Ewe and the relationships I have developed with these families on previous research trips will allow me to successfully carry out this project. My fieldwork in Ghana will support the completion of my dissertation which aims to highlight the instrumental role the Nana Benz played in shaping the political history of West Africa.

Spring Winners

Katie Ferguson - Department of Neuroscience

Eileen Pollack on why science is still a boy’s club: A collaborative event between the Women in Science at Yale and the Women in Science at the Nencki Institute in Poland: Women in Science, Engineering, Technology, and Mathematics (STEM) remain vastly underrepresented in high-ranking faculty positions around the world. This hinders our ability to meaningfully impact the direction of science, and is a huge loss for the scientific community as a whole. To discuss strategies to counteract the lack of female representation in STEM, the Women in Science at Yale (WISAY) and the Women in Science at the Nencki Institute (WISaN) in Poland have joined together to host a discussion with Eileen Pollack - one of the first two women to earn a Bachelors of Science from Physics Department at Yale, and the author of the book “The Only Woman in the Room: Why Science Is Still a Boys’ Club”. This event will provide an opportunity for scientists in Poland and at Yale to learn from Eileen Pollack’s research on the cultural, social, psychological, and institutional barriers confronting women in STEM, to brainstorm with allies on how to promote gender equity in STEM internationally, and to form new networks with scientists from another institution.

Michelle Bell - School of the Environment

Authorship of scientific publications by gender: The COVID-19 pandemic and beyond: Many fields of science are still dominated by men, with differences by field. COVID-19 has caused unprecedented changes to scientific work (e.g., lack of access to laboratories, transition to online teaching) as well as the more general pandemic-related stressors such as childcare, elder care, and more. Many such responsibilities typically fall more heavily on women than men (e.g., childcare), thus the pandemic may have exacerbated gender disparities in science. Several published works and anecdotal notes from journal editors highlight changes in the distribution of authors’ genders during the pandemic. We propose a 2-pronged project to: 1) to analyze trends in gender of corresponding author for over 50 scientific journals, comparing pre-pandemic and pandemic periods, country, and scientific field, and 2) a survey of scientists on how the pandemic has impacted their work. Collectively, these findings will inform our understanding of how the pandemic has impacted gender disparities in science.

Jinghua Ge - Department of Cell Biology

A Rapid Screening Assay for the Detection of Testosterone in Women: College student mental health is a major public health concern that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Rates of depression (48.1% in 2020), anxiety (38.5% in 2020) and suicidal thoughts (18.0% in 2020) have accelerated by over 50% compared to pre-pandemic levels (Lipson et al., 2019; Wang et al., 2020). Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) are often underrepresented in U.S. student mental health research despite experiencing disproportionately higher psychological distress and barriers to mental health care (e.g., cultural mistrust, stigma) than white students (Chen et al., 2019; Hingwe, 2021). In a 2021 Yale campus-wide mental health survey, findings revealed that BIPOC students, and specifically African American/Black students, reported lower mental health and social well-being compared to their white peers (Floman et al., in progress). In collaboration with diversity, equity, and inclusion experts and Yale undergraduate students of color, our team developed and launched a culturally sensitive three-arm parallel randomized controlled trial (RCT) examining the efficacy of two validated, 8-week, online interventions that support compassion, social well-being, and mental health for a diverse sample of Yale students. Each intervention arm was led by trained female instructors of color to address racial equity and congruence. The purpose of this proposed qualitative research project is to explore the impact of racial congruence and the experience of BIPOC students participating in the mental well-being intervention through semi-structured, narrative interviews by BIPOC interviewers with BIPOC students. Findings from this study will support future Yale mental health intervention efforts that are culturally sensitive to the needs and preferences of BIPOC students.

Gemma Moore & Stephanie Getz - Department of Neurosurgery

Promoting gender inclusivity by inviting a transgender scientist to discuss their work and career path with the Yale community: WISAYale is endeavoring to become more inclusive of gender minorities. There is a lower retention of LGBTQ+ individuals in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). This is in part due to larger proportions of these individuals feeling excluded from their scientific community, and ultimately choosing to leave STEM at higher rates as compared to non-LGBTQ+ colleagues. Fostering a more inclusive community is important as it can positively contribute to the well-being of LGBTQ+ individuals. The actions we take as WISAY sends a message to individuals in our community about what we think it means to be a scientist at Yale. Thus, we would like to be more thoughtful about our messaging and community events that we hold. To do this, we would like to host an event for the Yale community celebrating both the experiences and work of a transgender-identifying scientist. Through consulting experts on gender inclusivity, we see this as an important action to illustrate that we are dedicated to supporting and uplifting all individuals within the Yale community. Hosting an event that celebrates a transgender scientist will demonstrate that WISAYale values the work of transgender community members and provides the same stage that is as widely available to cis-gender members.

Aniko Szucs & Marijeta Bozovic - Russian, East European, & Eurasian Studies

Feminist Strategies of Protest in Eastern Europe During COVID-19: 2020 was a year of tragedy, political rage, and protest—across much of the world. On top of a devastating health crisis,opportunistic leaders in East Europe, among other areas of the world, used the COVID crisis to solidify power, implementing laws and regulations toconstrain lives in line withconservative, populist ideologies.This project proposes a roundtable discussion and an accompanying online exhibition on contemporary feminist protest art and activism that challenge illiberal governments’ anti-gender and anti-women ideologies and laws, and advocate for transnational alliances and feminist solidarities in, and after,the current pandemic conditions.

Jordan Katz - Judaic Studies Program

Delivering Knowledge: Jewish Midwives and Medical Culture in Early Modern Europe: Employed as midwives, wise women, or healers, female medical practitioners of various faiths disseminated medical knowledge and supplied information pertinent to religious and legal rulings in early modern Europe. While scholars have noted this role for Christian women, they have not studied the unique position of female Jewish healers with regard to municipal regulations, communal politics, medical knowledge, and legal consultations. This project examines the role and influence of Jewish midwives in early modern Western Europe, addressing their interactions with communal leaders, physicians, Christian medical practitioners, and bureaucrats. Exploring their medical influences, their engagement with administrative knowledge systems, and their intellectual status in the eyes of prominent male leaders, this project demonstrates that attention to the roles of Jewish midwives yields new understandings of the structures of knowledge and authority that undergirded early modern European society.

Changwook Ju - Department of Political Science

Why Do Military Officers Condone Sexual Violence? Toward a General Theory of Commander Tolerance: Why do commanders tolerate sexual violence by their soldiers? Intuitively, commander tolerance for military sexual violence (MSV) culminates in its persistence. However, existing explanations for MSV, preoccupied with soldiers’ motives, mostly neglect the role of commander tolerance. I argue that, to understand MSV that recurs despite its formal prohibition, scholars must specify the conditions under which commanders tolerate it. I construct a theoretical framework for commander tolerance, incorporating various commanders (of different levels), offenders, and victims (civilians, enemies, and comrades), regardless of their gender and sexuality. This broad coverage recognizes female perpetrators and male—and homosexual—victims, paradoxically contributing to MSV prevention and gender integration in militaries; neglecting these cases imparts unsound expectations about masculinity to males and characterizes females as victims. The framework’s core theoretical proposal is that micro-level factors predispose individual commanders to tolerating MSV; meso-level factors socialize commanders against controlling MSV; and macro-level factors disincentivize commanders from prosecuting MSV. This proposal offers practical implications for military justice systems. Despite its focus on MSV, this article represents the first systematic cut at a general theory of commander tolerance for prohibited forms of violence.

Terika McCall - Center for Medical Informatics

Understanding the mental health care needs of Black American women: Leveraging telemental health services and resources to achieve health equity: Approximately 1 in 5 Black American women experienced mental illness in the pastyear. Anxiety and depressive disorders are two of the most common mental health conditions. Historically, mental illness has been underreported in the Black community; therefore, the true burden may be significantly higher than reported prevalence estimates.Taking into consideration the aforementioned rateof mental illness and stressors caused or worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, we now have a potential mental health crisis within an already underserved community.The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected the Black community. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the rate of COVID-19 related hospitalizations and deaths are 4.7 and 2.1 times higher, respectively, among non-Hispanic Black persons than non-Hispanic White persons.The purpose of the study is to understand how the mental health of Black American women has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Approximately 20 Black women residing in the U.S. will be interviewed. Findings will help to inform the design of future studies and telemental health service and resource offerings.This project relates to the goals and mission of WFFby promotingscholarship by a woman on the mental health care needs of Black American women.

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