Extending Feminist Ethics of Care: Reflections, Lessons, and Methodological Considerations for Doing Gender Research During A Pandemic

Rachelle Miele, Wilfrid Laurier University; Jennifer Root, Wilfrid Laurier University; Rebecca Godderis, Wilfrid Laurier University; Sonia Meerai, York University

This paper presents the general experiences and methodological decision-making of an interdisciplinary research team attempting to study the impacts of Covid-19 on service delivery to survivors of gender-based violence accessing healthcare. This community-driven project, emerging from identified needs of our local healthcare organization, was originally conceptualized near the onset of the pandemic, in the summer of 2020. Our plan was to map changes in frontline practices necessitated by the fast-changing landscape of safety and ‘stay at home’ directives by drawing together frontline helping professionals (social workers, nurses, counselors, etc.) who could simultaneously benefit from the opportunity to share their experience in a focus group of their peers, while also contributing to disciplinary and practice knowledges informing service delivery in the context of a global pandemic. The initial design (a qualitative focus group study with frontline service providers) has undergone numerous modifications, under considerable discussion and evaluation by members of the research team.  This presentation will focus on the process of adjustment and justification used by the research team to meaningfully shift the design of this study by attending to issues including 1) timing, place, and context, 2) methodology, 3) methods, 4) responsibility to our community partner, 5) responsibility to survivors of gender-based violence, and 6) responsibility to each other as researchers.  An emerging framework for engaging in participant-centred research, consistent with feminist ethics of care in research, will be explored and we will highlight alignment with existing research and best practices related to working with research participants who have often been described as ‘vulnerable’ and/or ‘hard-to-reach’.

This paper will be presented at the following session: