Women and Gender Studies -- Graduate Theses

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Graduate theses completed in the Master of Arts in Women and Gender Studies (offered jointly by Mount Saint Vincent University and Saint Mary’s University).


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 5 of 33
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    Persistence of Female Genital Mutilation in Kenya: A Case of Meru County
    (Mount Saint Vincent University, 2023-08) Kubai, Faith Kairuthi
    The goal to end FGM in Kenya by 2022 seems bleak since the practice persists in hotspot areas such as Meru County. This study discusses the persistent crisis of FGM by examining existing discursive practices using feminist content analysis on online content in three organizations that work in the county. The analysis demonstrates that despite having a clear goal to end FGM, there are internal divisions on the use of Do No Harm language, effectiveness of the anti-FGM law, structural gender inequalities fueled by patriarchy and the insider-outsider differences in the African-led movement to end the harmful practice. The divisions emanate from gendered functions of FGM relative to the economic, political, and sociocultural organization of the community that are further exacerbated by the historical positions of sexism, racism, and colonialism characterized by top-down approaches. These are noteworthy because they are key contributing factors in the inability of present approaches to stem FGM and they show that the problem necessitates a bottom-up approach where activists need engagement with what works in their community context and get support to eradicate the practice. Use of discourse analysis in this study helped to consider activists’ standpoints, and grassroots and funder community input that ultimately call for dialogue among stakeholders. The voice of activists is expressed through the content they post in the online media while the grassroots community standpoint is taken from their verbal and written content in the form of testimonies and quotes from anti-FGM campaign training feedback. The funder community as a stakeholder plays a part through the stipulations and recommendations for grantees. This study shows that more successful eradication interventions will depend on factors such as sensitivity to the insider/outsider perspective, dialogue about the FGM law with the community and a focus with more attention on the role of patriarchal power in maintaining FGM practice and on shifting structural changes through women empowerment especially economically.
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    Equity for Student Parents: Toward Academic Culture and Policy Change
    (Mount Saint Vincent University, 2022-05) Esau, Erin
    This thesis discusses the experiences of undergraduate student parents with university policies and expectations; the factors that affect their experiences; and recommendations to make universities more accessible and inclusive. Data was collected from the websites of seven Nova Scotia universities and through an online asynchronous text-based focus group. The methodological and theoretical framework is based on Intersectionality-based Policy Analysis, Institutional Ethnography, and Ethic of Care. I argue that the effects of systems of oppression are a large factor in student parent experiences and that attempting to address the hardships that many student parents share without attention to structural forces and differential impacts limits the effectiveness of solutions. Recommendations include policy changes to acknowledge the diversity of students and their circumstances, more accessible social activities and events, and an expansion of childcare supports, as well as cultural changes to begin addressing unwritten rules and assumptions.
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    The Pink Dumbbell Problem: A Feminist Analysis of Gender-Specific Fitness Myths
    (Mount Saint Vincent University, 2022-05-08) Roberts, Terri M.
    This thesis explores the concept of Gender-Specific Fitness Myths (GSFMs) as identified by certified fitness instructors in Nova Scotia, Canada. Thirty-one certified fitness instructors participated in a survey about whether they did, or did not, experience workplace interactions that were rooted in incorrect and gender-biased information. The information participants provided on their own age, gender, and which fitness certifications they have revealed there is no one group of fitness instructors that has had more or fewer of these experiences than any other. Qualitative analysis of their responses revealed several themes in which GSFMs could be categorized and analyzed for origin and meaning. The survey responses also indicate that fitness instructors who are aware of and able to recognize GSFMs are responding with appropriate pedagogical strategies, but that they are also seeking more resources to do this. This research concludes with a series of recommendation that could improve access to physical activity spaces for girls and women.
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    Barriers for Women in Accessing Primary (Family) Health Care in Nova Scotia
    (Mount Saint Vincent University, 2020-07-15) Latter Stratton, Lillian Claire
    This thesis explores the barriers that women face in accessing primary (family) health care in Nova Scotia, Canada. Specifically, this study is concerned with the barriers that Indigenous women, women of colour and immigrant women face in accessing primary care. Twenty-eight Nova Scotian primary care physicians completed an online survey regarding their perspectives on barriers that women may face in accessing primary care (numerous other physicians answered part of the survey but did not complete it). One-hundred-ninety-three Nova Scotians who have experience accessing primary care services completed a separate online survey regarding their experiences with family medical care in Nova Scotia, and the barriers that they have faced in accessing care. Quantitative and qualitative data analyses revealed that Nova Scotian patients and physicians alike believe there are barriers to primary care access (especially for women). Indigenous women, women of colour and immigrant women populations identified particular barriers not expressed by participants who belonged to other groups.
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    Exploring the Challenges of Incorporating Holistic Midwifery into the University Midwifery Education Structure in Ontario and British Columbia
    (Mount Saint Vincent University, 2007-01-22) Crewe, Carolina
    The development of University Midwifery Education Programs (UMEPs) has been a key component of the midwifery professionalization process in Ontario and British Columbia. The choice to develop UMEPs has set a standard for professional midwifery training which it is anticipated subsequently legislated provinces in Canada will follow. The goal of this study is to highlight the gendered struggles of midwifery, as a female- dominated and historically marginalized occupational group, in its attempt to integrate into preexisting hierarchies of the university structure. This analysis has suggested that other similarly located marginalized groups attempting integration into a university structure are likely to experience similar exclusionary strategies related to factors including gender, sexuality, ethnicity and race. Evident from this study are specific challenges of this process including tensions around inter-professional collaboration and faculty sharing with dominant disciplines such as Health Sciences and/or Medicine, enculturation of masculine/feminine professional characteristics, struggles to value practicum learning components, visibility/obscurity within the university, struggles for achieving diversity in the student/client population, gendered dimensions of earnings potential and labour mobility. Recommendations from the findings of this study encourage future education design committees to take into consideration the economic, cultural, material and ideological barriers and challenges facing women in the context of practice as the predominant applicants, professionals and clients for this profession.