2021 - 2022 Seed Grant Winners

Fall Winners

Jaspreet Loyal - Department of Pediatrics

The Lived Experience of Women Division Chiefs at the Yale School of Medicine: Although there has been some positive change, there continues to be a paucity of women physicians in leadership roles within medical school departments. This project aligns with the WFF goal of advancing gender equity by highlighting the experience of physician women leaders at Yale, their paths to leadership and their insights into how to build and maintain the pipeline. In this project, investigators aim to use qualitative methodology and interview current women division chiefs at the Yale School of Medicine. Investigators are interested in describing the leadershippathsof these womenphysicianleaders, gain insight into the facilitators of and barriers to theirsuccess as leaders and identify opportunities onhow to engage more junior women faculty to embrace leadership roles within the medical school.

Emily Ritchie, Ariel Zhang, & Melissa Ferguson - Department of Psychology

Finding Common Ground: Using Analogic Perspective-Taking to Reduce Prejudice Against the Transgender Community: Addressing anti-transgender prejudice is crucial, as significant rates of harassment and violence threaten transgender individuals’ mental and physical health. Perspective-taking with outgroup members has been a popular intervention strategy, due to its demonstrated ability to diminish bias by promoting empathy and feelings of closeness to targets. However, traditional versions of the manipulation can have noteworthy emotional drawbacks. The proposed work will examine an alternative version, called analogic perspective-taking, that can overcome suchconcerns. Rather than simply imagining how the target may feel in their situation, analogic perspective-takers recall their own past experiences of hardship in order to understand the target’s feelings. This project builds off of past work to a) examine the impact of analogic perspective-taking on both implicit and explicit prejudice against the transgender community, and b) investigate how perspective-taking approaches elicit empathic feelings toward outgroups. As a whole, this work aims to promote gender equity and inclusive attitudes, and results will have important theoretical implications for the psychology of bias reduction.

Julia Foldi - School of Medicine, Medical Oncology

A Survey to Identify and Reduce Barriers to Breast Milk Expression Among Medical Trainees: Despite greater equity in medical education and training, gender disparities persist in medicine including those in leadership opportunities, authorship, academic promotion, and salary. Medical training is a common time for female physicians to become parents and while female physician parents are more likely to initiate breastfeeding than the general population, they are significantly less likely to continue breastfeeding over time. Lactating physician trainees face unique challenges, at a time that is often pivotal in their careers. We propose to conduct a comprehensive survey among all medical trainees at Yale New Haven Hospital with the aim to identify barriers to breastmilk expression among graduate medical education trainees. The ultimate long-term goal of our project is to advocate for systemic changes to reduce those barriers identified. We believe that better understanding of the challenges faced by lactating medical trainees could lead to improved gender equity. If funded, our project would also create scholarship, mentorship and networking opportunities for women interested in studying gender disparities in medicine.

Katie Gielissen - School of Medicine

Does Trust Hinge on Gender? Determining the presence of gender bias in use of the Primary Care Exception billing rule on Internal Medicine Trainees: The Primary Care Exception (PCE) is a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) rule that allows attending physicians to bill for indirect patient care (e.g.,without physically seeing the patient) when working with resident trainees.While CMS outlines some environmental requirements for use of the PCE,it does not provide guidelines for determining trainee readiness for indirect supervision. Therefore, these supervision decisions –commonly referred to as ‘entrustment’–via use of the PCE is made primarily at the discretion of individual supervising attending physicians.Prior qualitative work has shown that in making such entrustment decisions, attending physicians use internal schema–a “reflexive trust”grounded in theirpriorexperiences with trainees–to determine whether the PCE is appropriate for use ona given trainee. Such subjective judgements are prone to bias. Iwill be examining Internal Medicine patient encountersinto determine if trainee or attendinggender is associated with use of the PCE in primary care settings.Determining the presenceof gender biasin PCEwill serve a key role in mitigating bias inresident trainees.

Shaili Gupta - General Internal Medicine

Yale Healthcare Community’s Experiences of Identity-based Insults at Workplace: Under-representation of women and people of color in leadership positions have recently gained significant attention, and there are ongoing efforts to enhance recruitment and advancement of these historically under-represented groups. The same intensity of work is needed to improve the workplace experiences of these groups. Discrimination, bias, and microaggressions are common day-to-day experiences among both minorities and women in medicine. These experiences are often undermeasured and under-reported, partly from physicians’ dedication to their work superseding their ability to recognize and report these insults, and partly from the lack of information on resources available for resolution. My pilot work at one of Yale affiliate hospitals revealed significant burden of identity-based insults experienced by Yale faculty and trainees that impacted their professional development and emotional wellbeing. Similar assessment is needed at all major Yale healthcare sites to help guide the design of policies and procedures to address these offenses. Training workshops will also be designed to equip women and minorities with the tools and resources to address these insults, while also preparing bystanders to intervene.

Madison Mainwaring - Department of French

Using Natural Language Processing to Study Gender Bias: When women and gender minorities use certain key words on their CV and resumé associated with enthusiasm and niceties rather than professionalism, they deny themselves the credit they are due. This is surely because of the way they have been culturally programmed to value their skillsets on the job market. In a similar way, tropes in literary works earn their name precisely because they describe a minority group in stereotyped language, without variation between individuals. In the project I hope to complete as part of the Women Faculty Forum’s Seed Grant Program, I aim to collaborate with a data scientist in order to develop two tools examining and correcting gender bias and language. For the first, I willdevelop an application thatscansboth CVs and cover letters written by minorities for words and phrases that convey insecurity, hesitation, and self-doubt. The second project willanalyze the corpus of the famous Gallimard collection of canonical French texts called La Pléaide, tracing the descriptions ofgender-specificindividuals to measure the ways in which this corpus of texts perpetuates negative stereotypes.

Christy Olezeski - Department of Psychiatry

Yale Gender Program “Graduation” Needs Assessment: Transgender and gender expansive (TGE) individuals are faced with multiple challenges as they enter the adult healthcare system, including understanding the management of their medical care; accessing mental health services; accessing affirming providers for routine healthcare; and advocating and educating when faced with non-affirming environments.  The goal of this project is to conduct a two-part needs assessment in young adult patients graduating from the Yale Pediatric Gender Program, consisting of on-line surveys and focus groups, in order to understand: the knowledge gaps that patients need to fill to understand their medical management; patients perceived strengths and challenges in overseeing their own care; positive and negative experiences healthcare settings to date; how patients can best be supported as they move to adult models of healthcare.   Learnings from this project will not only empower patients but also inform the training and education of providers across the healthcare system on caring for TGE individuals.

Giulia Oskian, Da’Von Boyd, Sarah Khan, & Joy Wang - Department of Political Science

Critical Political Science Pedagogy: Much introductory political science teaching has long regarded questions of gender and race as peripheral to the study of “real” politics. While generations of feminist, antiracist, and decolonial scholars have done vital work to insist on the value of these questions for political science research , the marginal status of these questions in political science teaching is reflected in persistence of “gender” or “race” weeks on many introductory syllabi. The convenors of the Critical Political Science Pedagogy project seek to bring these transformations in political science research into the classroom by asking: how would we teach political science differently if we regarded themes like gender and sexuality, the family and social reproduction, race and ethnicity, empire, borders, and enslavement, as central rather than marginal to the study of politics? Faculty and graduate student instructors will gather resources for reimagining introductory political science teaching through a series of public seminars and working groups to be held in the Department of Political Science during the fall 2021 semester.


Rachel Perry & Ngozi Akingbesote - Department of Cellular & Molecular Physiology

Systemic Immunometabolism and Breast Cancer: In the Perry lab, it is our conviction that one of the most effective ways to promote gender – as well as racial and socioeconomic – diversity in academia is to provide resources to actively facilitate welcoming underrepresented individuals to our lab. This application seeks funds to provide a stipend for a female or nonbinary student from an underrepresented minority background to join our lab for a funded summer internship. This student will work with co-PI Ngozi Akingbesote, a graduate student in the Perry lab, on a project on how aerobic exercise slows breast cancer progression. Exercise is a clinical recommendation for those with breast cancer but lacks any mechanistic evidence to inform a more nuanced “exercise prescription.” The proposed project seeks to fill this unmet need, by employing the iMOONSHOT (immunoMetabolic Observations Originating in Novel mass Spectrometry Heuristics of Omics Targets) platform, which we developed, to understand how exercise primes the immune system to respond to breast cancer. 99% of those diagnosed with breast cancer are women; therefore, this project has immediate implications for women’s health as well as welcoming a young female/nonbinary student to research.

Flora Zhang - Department of Psychology

Is This Mine? How the Sense of Ownership Fosters Exploration in Learning: Ownership affects how we interact with the world around us. It affects what objects we like, and how we interact with them. Here, I plan to investigate a somewhat radical idea–that differences in perceived ownership (between boys and girls, for example), for both physical and abstract entities, influences learning outcomes. This potential relationship between ownership and learning outcomes is particularly critical when considering gender dynamics around owning nebulous things. For instance, do women and men have the same sense of ownership over ideas, projects, or a discipline? How early do these differences, if any, manifest? Down the road, this work may help us to understand why girls feel a lack of belonging in STEM fields, and how disparities in higher education arise (Bian et al., 2017; Bian et al., 2018).

Spring Winners

Nadia Ahmad - Law School

Blood Biofeuls: My project is a book titled, Blood Biofuels: The Drives and Detours of Billion Ton Bioeconomy. The books puts forward that the biofuel experiment has failed, and it is time for a fundamental reorientation in biofuel law and policy. The book will look at gendered aspects of energy access and energy impacts for rural women who use ovens and stoves that emit black carbon. The book will trace the origins of the first commercial biomass-produced biofuels of whale oil, which led to the dissemination of the marine mammal worldwide, animal cruelty, and loss of biodiversity. Similarly, agriculture and forest biofuels have contributed to food shortages, land use conflict, and water scarcity. Women and young children bear disparate impacts to the energy crisis. This book proposes a cautionary approach to this rapid industrialized production of biofuels, because it may heighten racial, gender, and socioeconomic disparities if the social justice impacts on rural women and farmers are not fully considered. By analyzing legal mechanisms that have led to the unquestioned and often enthusiastically supported growth of biofuels, this book will assert that agriculture and forest biofuels are only slightly less environmentally and socially devastating than the finite fossil fuel resources they seek to replace. I also rely on first person narrative as a South Asian Muslim woman.

Talia Boylan - Department of Classics

Pioneering Women Classicists of Yale at the Dawn of the Twentieth Centure: My project seeks to tell the life-stories of two of the first women to receive PhDs in classics from Yale, Maud Thompson (PhD 1906) and Irene Nye (PhD 1911). Upon graduating from Yale, Thompson went on to pursue a career in social activism and secondary-school teaching. After a brief stint as a lecturer on social and suffrage at Detroit Seminary, she taught classics at Miss Beard’s School in New Jersey while simultaneously participating in a host of activist causes including the five-month-long Patterson Silk Strike of 1913. Nye served as Professor of Greek and Latin at Connecticut College, where she worked tirelessly to make classics accessible to a broader constituency by inaugurating a series of ground-breaking classical civilization courses. My research on these two women will be presented in two different formats, one intended for a scholarly audience, the other for a larger segment of the community. The former will consist of a close prosopographical study of Thompson and Nye with attention paid to their place in the narrative of the rise of the modern research university. The latter will take the form of a multimedia story map charting the lives of Thompson and Nye before and after their studies at Yale.

Megan Kirk Chang - Center for Emotional Intelligence, Child Study Center

Exploring the impact of racial congruence on the experience of BIPOC undergraduate students enrolled in an online mental well-being intervention: 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.

Danielle Chiaramonte - School of Medicine, Psychiatry

Pre-Implementation of a TGNC Mental Health Program at Yale: Assessing Organizational Readiness: Research repeatedly finds Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming (TGNC) adults lack access to competent and affirming mental healthcare. Yale currently does not have a TGNC-specific mental health program for adults, however, existing support structures suggest Yale may be ready to implement such a program. The purpose of this grant is to apply a pre-implementation organizational readiness framework to evaluate Yale’s readiness for the development and implementation of a TGNC-specific mental healthcare program. Three specific aims will guide this project: 1) Assess existing mental health services, needs, and resources for TGNC in New Haven using data from the Connecticut LGBTQ+ Community Survey; 2) Identify, contact, and survey key stakeholders at Yale about organizational readiness; and 3) Deepen understanding and develop recommendations for implementation readiness through facilitated focus groups. Findings from this project will be used to develop a strategic action plan that estimates timelines, cost, and provides recommendations about what resources, capacity building, and partnerships are needed to successfully implement a TGNC mental health program at Yale. This grant strongly aligns with WFF’s commitment to gender equity by working to create a university environment in which TGNC faculty, fellows, staff, and their dependents at Yale are well-supported and able to flourish.

Clare Fentress, Katie Colford, Dilara Karademir, & Leyla Levi - School of Architecture / School of Drama

Give and Take: Give and Take is a month-long, student-produced installation at the Yale School of Architecture’s North Gallery. Eschewing the white-cube presentations that typically occur within this and other architectural museological contexts, Give and Take is instead a participatory environment. It transforms the gallery into a new type of room solely for giving and receiving gifts, positing reciprocity, pleasure, and delight as key aspects of academic and intellectual life.  Every School of Architecture student is invited by name to participate, and their engagement shapes the slow unfolding of the room over the course of the installation. By eliding the distinction between curator and visitor and creating a space of spontaneous exchange, Give and Take quietly challenges the competitive, hierarchical nature of architectural education and offers a counterpoint rooted in feminist praxes and relational aesthetics.

Ashley Hagaman & Emilie Egger - School of Public Health

Qualitative Investigation of Barriers to Postnatal Care in Three Ethiopian Regions: This project seeks to understand barriers to postnatal care (PNC) access among women in three regions of Ethiopia. This grant will allow our multidisciplinary Ethiopian Ministry of Health and Yale-partnered team, led by women scholars, to examine women’s experiences with PNC in order to develop cultural and systems-level implementation strategies to improve care access and delivery. We will leverage an existing data set of 60 rich semi-structured interviews with women that gave birth within the past six months regarding their health care experiences during pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum care. We will conduct a meta analysis of the interviews to ask how women discuss PNC, how they discuss their priorities about PNC, and which experiences they identify as effective to prompt them to seek care. We will interpret our results using a Health Equity Implementation Framework.

Ming Ma - Department of Psychology

Is ‘Genius’ Gendered?: Implicit Brilliance Impressions of Women and Men: Despite recent reports of decreases in overall implicit and explicit gender stereotype endorsement in the United States, the gender-brilliance stereotype remains strong and pervasive in society. Both adults and children associate brilliance with men (vs. women). Women are underrepresented in jobs that demand exceptional cognitive ability and are less likely than men to be described as ‘brilliant’ and ‘genius.’ This project examines how people implicitly assess women and men on brilliance. Study 1 examines whether people require more brilliance-related information to form the same level of high implicit brilliance impression for women (vs. men). Study 2 explores whether people are more likely to downgrade implicit impressions of brilliance for women (vs. men) after learning about low-brilliance behavioral information. In connection with WFF’s mission of advancing gender equity, these studies shed light on the impact of gender stereotypes on implicit impressions of brilliance and the possible mechanisms behind how stereotypes affect implicit impression updating.

Gabriel Murchison - School of Public Health, Social and Behavioral Sciences

Quantifying Transgender & Nonbinary Young Adults’ Romantic Relationship Experiences: Transgender and nonbinary (TNB) young adults’ mental health may be influenced by their TNB-specific romantic relationship experiences: how romantic partners engage, either positively or negatively, with their TNB identities. However, research on TNB-specific romantic relationship experiences is hindered by a lack of psychometrically validated scales quantifying these experiences. Based on interviews with 30 TNB young adults, I have developed preliminary items for a scale assessing adverse and favorable TNB-specific romantic relationship experiences across 5 domains (e.g., identity affirmation, stigma buffering). I now propose to refine and validate this scale through an online focus group with 8 TNB young adults and an online survey with 200 TNB young adults. Results will provide new insights into TNB-specific romantic relationship experiences and support use of the new scale in future research. I will disseminate the new scale for use in both research and counseling with TNB young adults, particularly in campus settings. This study will lay the groundwork for a subsequent project addressing TNB-specific romantic relationship experiences in relation to depression, anxiety, and intimate partner violence victimization. This broader project would incorporate 3 Yale student research assistants, providing them with training and mentorship in gender-focused health research.

Francesca Penner - Child Study Center

A Qualitative Exploration of Emotion Regulation during Pregnancy: Maternal mental health is an urgent public health issue. Rates of depression and anxiety among women rise during pregnancy and postpartum, and are notably higher among women of color. Depression and anxiety symptoms may impact physical health, increase risks for pregnancy complications and maternal mortality, and detrimentally affect later caregiving. To reduce the incidence of perinatal mental health disorders, it is critical to better understand factors underlying their development. This seed project seeks to interview a diverse sample of 30 first-time pregnant women to conduct a qualitative exploration of emotion regulation during pregnancy—that is, the ways that women manage negative emotions and feelings of stress during pregnancy. Emotion regulation is a topic frequently studied in the context of mental health and psychological treatment, but information is lacking on emotion regulation during pregnancy. Learning from the subjective perspectives of women, particularly women of color, about their emotions during pregnancy is crucial to advance knowledge on perinatal mental health and generate hypotheses for future studies. This project builds on postdoctoral work by the applicant and aligns with the WFF mission by a) promoting scholarship on women, and b) creating a research involvement opportunity for an undergraduate, thereby promoting mentorship and training.

Christine Ngaruiya - Department of Emergency Medicine

Assessment of the status quo for capacity to mitigate environmental and climate change effects on cancer burden in Kenya: Funding for Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) research in Low and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) remains low despite prioritization by WHO and other international bodies. This disparity is of particular concern in the African setting, where primary data on NCDs is significantly lacking. This lack of primary data impedes efforts to appropriately allocate resources for NCDs in the affected countries, and also hampers advocacy efforts. In this study, I will partner with the Kenya National Cancer Institute, to conduct an assessment on the status quo of Kenya’s capacity to identify and manage environmental/ climate changes that affect cancer burden in Kenya. We will be able to identify a key priority of partners in the Kenya setting, while also expanding research-capacity of involved team members (including early-stage and mid-career women scientists) through this project. Ultimately, our pilot findings will be used to apply for a federally funded grant in order to conduct additional field assessments beyond the current study. The findings of this study will have direct implications for policy-makers in the country.

Thi Vu - School of Public Health, Social and Behavioral Sciences

Experiences of caregiving and care receiving among women ages 50+ living with HIV/AIDS: A Qualitative Study: Advances in anti-retroviral therapy treatments for HIV have allowed HIV+ individuals to live longer, healthier lives. However, compared to all persons living with HIV/AIDS, women have lower viral suppression rates and are less likely to be retained in care. Despite the calls for healthcare providers to be trained in the unique care needs of older adults living with HIV/AIDS, there is a gap in empirical evidence addressing the specific health concerns of women ages 50+ who are living with HIV/AIDS, thereby limiting targeted efforts to engage them in care. Specifically, older women living with HIV/AIDS may face unique psychosocial stressors associated with caregiving responsibilities and differential access to caregiving resources that could affect retention in care. Thus, the purpose of this qualitative study is to 1) explore the caregiving resources and support systems relied upon by older women living with HIV/AIDS, and 2) identify caregiving factors that act as facilitators/barriers to care-seeking behaviors. Results from this study will illuminate the nuanced lived experiences of older women living with HIV/AIDS and, thus, inform future targeted clinical and community-based intervention efforts to increase care engagement among this population.

Nala Williams - Department of Anthropology / Department of African American Studies

Engaging the Ancestors: Black Women Archaeologists, Kinfulness, and the Plantation: The study of archaeological knowledge production remains an understudied field in cultural anthropology. Despite efforts by archaeologists to discuss the role of identity and culture in archaeological research and analysis, methods of how to analyze archaeological knowledge, and how it is shaped by social factors in particular, remain contentious in the field. This research proposes that studying Black women’s archaeologists relationships to artifacts, landscapes, and descendant communities offers alternative modalities of interrelation outside of that understood through liberal humanism. This proposal seeks to use an ethnographic study of Black women archaeologists in the United States and asks the question: how do Black women’s archaeological practices emerge as an alternative way of understanding relationships to objects, landscapes, ancestors? This primary research question will be answered through participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and object-centered interviews in key sites of archaeological knowledge production: excavations, archaeology laboratories, and academic conferences to explore how Black women’s identities and historical situatedness suggest there are untheorized, yet important ways to ethically relate to non-human beings.



Contact Us

The Yale Women Faculty Forum
205 Whitney Avenue, Suite 301B
New Haven, CT 06511

(203) 436-2978

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Click this link to join our mailing list.  You will need your NetID.


Follow Us