Graduate Studies, Student Voices, Sociology & Anthropology

Travel Report: Sarah Vanderveer, Sociology and Anthropology

December 03, 2018

From Graduate Studies...

Sarah Vanderveer, a Master’s student in Sociology in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, received a Graduate International Research Travel Award (GIRTA) to further her 2018 research in Accra, Ghana. Her report: 

My research focuses on how female academics in Ghana are challenging gender norms and expectations within their academic and social environments. This research focuses on the gendered experiences of female faculty and PhD candidates, the methods they employ to raise consciousness about systemic gender bias and the ways they pursue gender equity.

As my research is ethnographic in nature, fieldwork was a necessary part of my studies; this fieldwork was made possible by the generosity of the Faculty of Social Sciences at Simon Fraser University the the granting of a Graduate International Research Travel Award (GIRTA).

Key findings from my field work focus on how women in academia initiate critical discourse with peers and members of their community to raise consciousness about embedded gender biases. Using negotiative feminist methods, they manage cultural pressures to fulfill the roles and obligations related gendered domestic labour and childrearing. They work together to create, under difficult circumstances, to develop and support each other, building systems outside of the traditional academic structures that were not built to include them. By participating in these support systems, openly challenging gender bias and creating new methods for pursuing equity and development, they navigate the larger system, ensuring that it must include them, and take their special considerations into perspective.