Voices from the Early Days – Fran Wasoff on the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships

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.