Fran Wasoff reflecting on the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships (CRFR) and being feminist in the academy.
Órla Murray: What about your involvement in the centre for relationships and families? Families and relationships?
Fran Wasoff: Looking back on it, at the time we thought of it as a feminist institution, mainly women work there. It was a hugely supportive working environment, the women and the men who worked there. There was hardly anyone who worked full time. First, we ran a collective directorship. It was four of us who were co-directors. And [in] the ten years that it was running, I was there for eight of them. We would disagree about things, of course, but we never had a personal row. It was really a lovely working environment, from where I was sitting. And because, women [who] were doing this job tended to be over-qualified because they were part time jobs, they would’ve had much better full-time jobs had they wished to have a full-time job. They worked their socks off. And it was very innovative. Very supportive. We did things that other parts of the university simply didn’t do. We did a lot of work on knowledge transfer, we produced a briefing series that is now a normal thing to do for research. But [back] then it was new. We employed a graphic designer to make it look decent. So it made us look like a much bigger organisation than we actually were. It had tremendous readership, I mean research briefings are… well, everyone now does them.
ÓM: Yeah, it’s a common thing.
FW: It is! And if you can’t produce a four-page summary of your work then forget about it.
ÓM: Yeah. Was that an explicitly sort of feminist activity, or was it sort of conceptualised in those ways?
FW: Not really. It was just all of us were feminists, that’s how we wanted to work.