Below you can read more about Patrick Meyer, who received funding through the WGS Student Opportunities Fund to pursue a summer undergraduate research opportunity with Duke University in 2021!
Patrick Meyer (He/They)
Q. Tell us about the opportunity you had last summer.
I was a 2021 summer research assistant in the Identity and Diversity Lab at Duke University. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the experience was entirely virtual. My primary project over the summer involved developing a theoretical framework to deconstruct harmful masculine norms while fostering authentic identity development in boys and men. This project will hopefully result in a published article in a prominent psychology or gender studies journal!
Q. How did the project influence your understandings of what you had been learning through your coursework in WGS?
This experience deepened so much of the knowledge base I was already cultivating in my WGS classes. Throughout the summer I was able to learn about how systems and individuals uphold and police gender norms, and how this can be particularly distressing for individuals who may not conform to these rigid norms. Sacrificing authenticity for the comfort of conformity demonstrates how patriarchal structures actually end up harming men as well! With the intersectional lens the WGS program has provided me, I also examined how gendered pressure interacts with other axes of power and inequity.
Q. What was the best aspect of this experience?
The most beneficial aspect of this experience was that I was able to foster a connection between my major discipline, psychology, and WGS. The interdisciplinary nature of WGS is one of the things that drew me to the minor and this project showed me how feminist activism and gender equity movements are enhanced by the presence of individuals from diverse backgrounds. In order to deconstruct harmful masculinity norms, it will require the work of educators, mental health professionals, policymakers, and more!
Q. How did the ability to engage in this opportunity influence your next steps and future career goals?
This opportunity allowed me to gain substantial research experience that solidified and expanded my interests in psychology and WGS. I am currently in the process of applying to doctoral programs in counseling psychology, and I am confident that this summer experience will shape so much of my approach to research and practice! The dual-level approach of our framework, deconstructing norms while fostering authenticity, really resonated with me and I hope to become a social change agent that promotes wellness among individuals and across systems.