​Ohio State joins national initiative to increase research about women and girls of color

Focus of collaborative reflects university’s commitment to inclusive excellence

By: Emily Caldwell

Published on November 17, 2016

The Ohio State University has joined a national initiative to increase research on women and girls of color.

Ohio State is among more than 50 member institutions uniting to address a call for action issued by the White House to increase understanding and highlight the status of women and girls of color – a growing demographic in the United States that remains underrepresented in academic research.

The institutions are members of the Collaborative to Advance Equity through Research, established a year ago to expand research on women of color, who will constitute more than half of the U.S. female population by 2050. The institutions have collectively pledged more than $75 million to develop new opportunities for scholarly research that closes the gap in knowledge around women and girls of color.

Participants pledge to:

  • Publicly acknowledge the critical need for increased research investigating women and girls of color and the value this research holds in advancing equity.
  • Provide new or continued support for research that engages and addresses women and girls of color.
  • Conduct an institutional review of existing research and sharing results of the self-study with the collaborative to establish a landscape of scholarship, share best practices and identify areas that need more attention.

“Joining the collaborative is an opportunity to contribute to a national conversation of great significance,” said Bruce McPheron, executive vice president and provost. “Building and enhancing the research pipeline on women and girls of color is another demonstration of how we are working to advance excellence through diversity.

“Our participation in the collaborative will help us expand opportunities supporting the work of our current faculty around women and girls of color and help us keep an eye toward growing the community of scholars doing work in this area. There are many rich opportunities to partner with our peer institutions in building our collective knowledge, and it is important for Ohio State to be a part of those efforts.”

Sharon Davies
Wendy Smooth

Sharon Davies, vice provost for diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer, and Wendy Smooth, associate professor of women’s, gender and sexuality studies, are leading Ohio State’s participation in the national effort.

“Our participation in the collaborative aligns with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s goals to enhance scholarly research focused on diverse groups,” said Davies, also executive director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race & Ethnicity. “Collaborating with colleagues across the nation to fill in the information gaps on women and girls of color further aligns with our role as a leader in higher education on diversity.”

Smooth was selected by the White House Council on Women and Girls to represent Ohio State at a November 2015 conference around the theme “Advancing Equity for Women & Girls of Color: A Research Agenda for the Next Decade.” The summit discussion centered around education, violence, health, economic development, criminal justice and media depictions of women and girls of color – all areas in need of research to enhance the knowledge base about this population.

“We are lucky to have a rich community of scholars at Ohio State already focused on women and girls of color. The collaborative will allow us to bring those researchers together to strengthen our research efforts, create new opportunities for interdisciplinary collaborations and pursue funding opportunities to support that research,” said Smooth, who specializes in research on the experiences of women of color as lawmakers and the impact of public policies on women’s lives.

The collaborative, comprising universities, colleges, seminaries, research agencies and other organizations, is led by the Anna Julia Cooper Center at Wake Forest University in collaboration with the White House Council on Women and Girls.

“At Ohio State, we hope to attract researchers working on women and girls of color across the university from the humanities, social work and education to engineering, the biomedical sciences and public health,” Davies said.

Davies and Smooth have been planning Ohio State’s participation for several months, and have assembled an advisory committee to inform the initiative’s design and activities. They hope to begin operations during spring semester.

“This is an incredible opportunity to build a robust universitywide scholarly research and learning community centered on women and girls of color. Ohio State has the resources to make a significant contribution to what we know and to better understand what we don’t know on women and girls of color,” Smooth said.

Ohio State researchers working on women and girls of color and those interested in participating in this initiative are encouraged to contact Smooth at smooth.1@osu.edu


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Emily Caldwell
614-292-8152 | Email

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