Think Tank Launches With A Focus On Gender, Sexuality

By Brittany Britto Houston Chronicle

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr)  The new think tank at the University of Houston will explore several topics including work, caregiving, and sexuality. 

Houston

The University of Houston has launched a think tank to examine how gender and sexuality impact all aspects of life within the Houston region.

The university's Institute for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality has assembled around 20 faculty members and experts to generate research and dialogue around topics related to gender and sexuality, including workforce, health, family and relationships, leadership and equity, according to a university release. The institute will be housed in the UH College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

The institute is also working to engage partners and professionals to identify challenges and develop solutions to issues involving gender and sexuality within Harris County, which includes domestic and sexual violence, sex trafficking, LGBTQ and transgender equality, reproductive and maternal health, health disparities, political representation and child-care.

"Gender is not about how sexy you are," Elizabeth Gregory, director of UH's women, gender and sexuality institute and academic program, said matter-a-factly.

Historically, it's been about a "work-assignment system" -- a person's assumed role in the economy, what jobs they're supposed to do and how much money they're supposed to make, she said. "If you cast it in this view, you see it as bigger systemic issue. ... It gives it another way of thinking about it."

Additionally, the think tank is hoping to give space to think about how roles and issues related to gender and sexuality have evolved over time. For example, women have long been entering different sectors of employment, men are doing more care work, and sexuality is being defined in different ways, Gregory said.

"Things have shifted, but the infrastructure and the way we think and talk about these things haven't caught up with the things that are changing," Gregory says, and so fittingly, the institute will offer more context and data. The ultimate goal, Gregory said, is to help transform public policy, enhance well-being and bring "data out of the shadows" with the think tank's findings and discussions.

"We aim to be a collaborative entity that is serving the community and helping the community frame its dialogue of how it wants to move forward in an informed and evidence-based way," Gregory said.

The think tank, which has been in the works since 2017, was approved in April and hosted its first inaugural event Monday, featuring its founding president, economist Heidi Hartmann, as guest speaker. ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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