Works in Progress with Fatooma Saad

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October 2, 2023
4 p.m. to 5 p.m.
5057 Woodward 10th floor, room 10302
5057 Woodward
Detroit, MI 48202
Event category: Workshop

Please join the Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies Program for our next session of Works in Progress, a workshop series for graduate student research.

The series continues with Fatooma Saad, graduate student in the Department of Communication. Fatooma will share "Motherhood in the Military: Understanding How Primary Caregiving Impacts Organizational Life."

Description:  The Department of Defense (DOD) is the world’s largest employer, serving nearly 2.9 million employees in and out of uniform. Because of their size and global presence, the DOD has an outsized influence on workplace policy, including family-friendly and gender-inclusive policies. Given current issues with family-leave and gender-inclusive workplace policies (e.g. childcare, family medical leave etc.) in the civilian workforce, further investigation of how these features of work/family life are manifest in the world’s largest employer is needed; necessitating the study of organizational and work-life balance in the DOD. Accordingly, this study aims to understand active-duty service women’s (U.S. Marine Corps [USMC] & U.S. Air Force [USAF]) experiences of motherhood within the U.S. military. Specifically, we explore how these experiences reinforce and/or challenge dominant cultural values of the DOD as well as how military mothers negotiate the intersection of their caregiving responsibilities, military service, and organizational life. Issues with childcare availability and accessibility were organized into three themes: Childcare Centers (CDC) Operating Hours, Wait Lists, and Foreign Duty Stations and Childcare. Childcare issues presented a constant threat to unit readiness and military personnel availability, and in some instances, caused concerns that could pose a risk to national security. Additionally, participants reported increased workplace and family-life stress given the perceived contradictory gender roles they identified with: nurturing mother and elite warrior. Findings have implications for policy and research. 

About the series: The central goal of the workshop series is to help foster community support among graduate students with research and teaching interests in feminism, trans studies, and/or queer studies. 

The series is an opportunity for graduate students to share work at any stage of development, whether dissertation work, MA thesis work, seminar work, or presentation work—but genuine works in progress. The workshop is not focused on “finished products.” Instead, the series is an opportunity for students to share work among a peer community and request feedback that is most helpful, supportive, and motivating for the stage they are at.

The series, however, is not a substitute for the necessary work students do with their own departments, advisors, or committee members, nor, given the likely cross-disciplinary nature of the work shared, would the group always be able to address discipline-specific matters. The group would be, rather, a form of care and support for graduate students and their work, something akin to academic mutual aid. To paraphrase Frank O’Hara, we want to put our work between people instead of between pages.

October 2023