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2018 Research Development Grant Reports

Reports from Kallia O. Wright, Jasmine T. Austin, and Ghenet Besera and Milkie Vu

Selection from ORWAC Research Development Grant Report -- Jasmine T. Austin:

Rhetorical Absence of Black Women's Identities During Realistic Organizational Previews 

Review of Project 

This project explores the ways in which Black women graduate students are socialized during realistic organizational previews. I am interested in how their personal identities are discussed as a trust building strategy between the organization and newcomer, and how the absence of this discussion can result in distrust in members of the organization. This project utilizes a multiple-case (holistic) design method (Lindlof & Taylor, 2011), implementing triangulation of interviews with Black women graduate students, interviews with faculty and staff who are primary socializers of graduate students, and completion of an adaptation of the Hamilton's General Campus, Academic, and Racial Subscale by all participants. 

Progress and Results 

This section contains a general preview of the results based on the interviews of graduate students. Across all interviews, graduate students said they were not prepared for their potential experience as Black women in predominately White spaces. Due to socializers not mentioning previous campus events pertinent to student’s personal identities, participants said they were (1) blind sighted by future events pertinent to their personal identity, (2) confused about the campus climate because eventually they realized the climate was a remnant of those past events, (3) did not think it was acceptable to talk to faculty members about additional events experienced by the participant, pertinent to their personal identity, and/or (4) felt less support from the administration of their department. 

When asking participants about ways their personal identities (i.e., race, gender, etc.) can be discussed as a trust building strategy between the organization and newcomer, I found an interesting variety of answers. Two participants exclaimed they would not feel comfortable receiving a realistic preview from a socializer, regardless of shared personal identities. Instead, they preferred to receive a “resource guide” with information that is specific to multiple personal identities (e.g., race, gender, nationality, etc.). Participants requested this resource guide be 

provided to all incoming graduate students and then follow up meetings could be scheduled to discuss any specific interests, questions, or concerns. 

The remaining 18 participants expressed great interest in having a conversation about their personal identities and what to expect as a Black woman in a predominately White space. Also, those 18 participants agreed the resource guide is a good idea to implement in conjunction with a conversation about their personal identities. However, all 20 participants cautioned: if a conversation is had, it must be had in an appropriate manner. In the words of one participant, “It’s not always what you say, but how you say it. If you come off too strong, then you’ll scare me! But if you come off as wanting to be supportive, then I would definitely trust them.” Alternatively, all participants corroborated that rhetorical absence of one’s personal identity will result in distrust in the organization. Furthermore, though most participants did not receive a realistic organizational preview based on their personal identity, and many cautioned on how the discussion is had, all participants agreed that a message should be given about their personal identity. 


I express my deepest gratitude to the ORWAC for funding my research, giving me the opportunity to learn with and from participants, and the ability to compensate participants and research assistants for their time. 

Selection from ORWAC Research Development Grant Report -- Kallia O. Wright:

Narratives about Endometriosis Experiences in Jamaica 

 In the months of February and March 2019, a qualitative research study was conducted to determine the lived experiences of Jamaican women with endometriosis. The study began after receiving approval from the IRB committees at Illinois College and the University of the West Indies, Mona (Jamaica). In total, 16 women volunteered to participate in the study. The average age was 36 years. They responded to a call for participants posted on the Facebook page of the Shauna Fuller Clarke BASE (Better Awareness and Support for Endometriosis) Foundation. Data was gathered through the use of interviews which averaged 1 hour. Two interviews were conducted face-to-face, while the others were conducted via telephone. After the interviews concluded, the recordings were transcribed by four Jamaican undergraduate students. The students also participated in a two-hour coding session to identify preliminary codes for analyzing the interviews. Using a narrative inquiry format, the study sought broadly to determine how Jamaican women with endometriosis engage with significant stakeholders to manage the disease. While analysis of the interviews is still ongoing the following results are emerging: 

• RQ1. (Communication challenges before diagnosis). Several women experienced rudeness and impatience from medical practitioners; delayed diagnoses due to little time spent with doctors. 

• RQ2. (Self-advocacy strategies with doctors). Some women reported searching online for more information on endometriosis and using this information during medical visits; but some women did not advocate for themselves due to low self-confidence and little formal education. 

• RQ3. (Communicative interactions). Several women reported negative interactions with family members, medical practitioners, co-workers, and intimate partners. All were told that the pain was normal. Usually, a visit to the hospital helped to provide these women with credibility. 

• RQ4. (Identity Change). Interestingly, when asked how the disease changed their identity, all responded that there were no changes and expressed defiance in the face of the disease. 

Unique Findings: (1) Almost half of the women were not employed. The unemployed reported that they could not sustain a full-time job due to repeated absences due to pain. (2) All, except for two women did not have children. Those with partners had been attempting to get pregnant. (3) All, except for one reported extreme pain during sex; however, they noted support from intimate partners. (4) All stated that medical practitioners needed more education about endometriosis. 

Selection from ORWAC Research Development Grant Report -- Ghenet Besera and Milkie Vu:

Refugee Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health: Understanding Experiences with Accessing and Utilizing Services

Since receiving the ORWAC Research Development Grant, we have secured funding from other sources to supplement the ORWAC Grant. Specifically, we received funding from Emory’s Center for Reproductive Health Research in the Southeast (RISE), Jones Program in Ethics, and Healthcare Innovation Seed Grant Program. In conjunction with the ORWAC grant, this funding covers all aspects of the study, including interpretation, translations, trainings, and participant incentives. Further, we have increased the number of healthcare providers we are interviewing from twelve to twenty. We have secured IRB approval for our study, translated all consent documents and study materials into French, Burmese, and Nepali, and began the process of interviewing providers and recruiting women to participate in the study. Also, we have secured partnerships and support for study implementation from the Center for Pan Asian Community Services and Embrace in Atlanta. These organizations are facilitating study recruitment and interpretation services for our project. We have trained five interpreters in qualitative methods and human subject’s protection to conduct interviews in French, Burmese, and Nepali for our study. All interviews will be complete by December 2019.

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