A team of UWindsor researchers is examining how trauma may manifest itself as hyper-productivity in women academics.
Lindsey Jaber, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Education, instructor Kimberly Hillier, and education PhD candidate Salsabel Almanssori, have launched a pilot project on women’s experiences. They hope to interview at least 12 academics who identify as women from southwestern Ontario for the study: graduate students, faculty members, or women in academic leadership positions. The team will publish its analysis of the semi-structured interviews in an academic paper, filling a gap in literature relating to women’s experiences of trauma, hyperactivity, mental health, and academia.
“This study hopes to highlight the unique experiences of women in academia and encourage broader conversations around women’s mental health,” said Dr. Jaber. “The alarming rates of post-traumatic stress disorder among women in both Canada and the United States indicate the need for more research on women’s experiences.”
According to the American Psychological Association, women are twice as likely to suffer the detrimental consequences of trauma, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), longer durations of post-traumatic symptoms, and greater sensitivity to triggers. Jaber, Hillier, and Almanssori suspect women may use productivity as a coping mechanism for past or current trauma. Trauma is subjective and could include physical, psychological, or sexual abuse; terrorism and war; domestic violence; witnessing violence against others; and accidents and natural disasters.
“Hyper-productivity can be a functional way to disassociate,” said Dr. Hillier. “It’s a relatively undertheorized coping mechanism among women survivors, particularly within the context of academia.”
“By exploring the gendered nature of academia, trauma, and mental health, we hope to contribute to the knowledge of women’s multi-dimensional experiences in academia, which further enhances equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives within higher education.”
The study, funded through UWindsor’s Faculty of Education, will also provide research opportunities for Jennifer Cordeiro, another PhD student in education, and a Master’s student in psychology.