Our founding members
The following people collaborated on the network funding application following a preliminary symposium held in St Andrews in 2018.
Bettina Bildhauer is Professor of Modern Languages at the University of St Andrews (UK). She has researched medical, artistic and social views of menstruation in the Middle Ages and has published on this at length in her monograph Medieval Blood (2006, 2009), as well as in an article in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (2013) and a chapter in Menstruation (ed. Andrew Shail and Gillian Howie, 2005). Her core argument is that menstruation was often seen as polluting and uncontrollable, marking women’s bodies and identities as less coherent and integral than men’s. Her current interest is in the persistence of such medieval views though they no longer make sense in modern medical frameworks. She also works on modern conceptions of the Middle Ages (especially on film) and on material things in medieval literature.
Dr. Liita N. Cairney is a laughter, dance, and life-loving academic and entrepreneur. Liita earned a Ph.D in International Health Policy from the University of Edinburgh, a Masters of Science in Environmental Policy, and Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Bard College in New York State, USA. Dr. Cairney was born and spent the first 18 years of her life in Namibia. She currently lives in Edinburgh, Scotland with her Husband, Mark, and their son, Henrik Omepo.
Liita is the Managing Director of Kalitasha Limited and founder of FirstPeriod.org. Kalitasha designs and manufactures ergonomic and reusable menstrual hygiene products for girls who are just starting to menstruate, while educating them about their menstrual cycle. Using the character, Koree, the Firstperiod.org website provides educational materials that use the menstrual cycle as a framework for harnessing self-awareness and self-confidence in young women.
Olivier Award winning Marisa Carnesky is completing a practice-led PhD at Middlesex University on reinventing menstrual rituals through new performance practices, including the production Dr Carnesky’s Incredible Bleeding Woman. Marisa is a creative professional and scholar of menstrual rituals.
Celia Hodson is the founder of the Social Enterprise Hey Girls, which donates one menstrual product for each product bought with the aim of ending period poverty in the UK. Celia has been working closely with the Scottish Government and Local Authorities to advise on the roll out of free period products in schools and public buildings. Hey Girls recently launched an education programme to complement its work to increase access to products. Celia provides insight and expertise as a social enterprise founder and product manufacturer through her collaboration with the network.
Bee Hughes is an academic and visual artist working with embodied experiences of menstruation through performative works which draw upon everyday rituals and routine and the feminist tradition of self-examination. Her works in poetry and sound art explore repetition and menstrual normativity encountered through online medical advice, considering how these frequently visited sites of medical authority now form part of the everyday experience of menstruation. Bee has presented her research and exhibited in the UK and internationally, and is in the final year of her interdisciplinary practice-led PhD ‘Performing Periods: Challenging Menstrual Normativity through Art Practice’ at Liverpool John Moores University. In 2018 Bee curated Periodical, an exhibition of menstrual art and UK menstrual product advertising as part of Being Human festival of the humanities, hosted at Liverpool School of Art & Design. She also teaches on a number of programmes covering the arts and cultural studies. Bee is the design and web coordinator for this project.
Dr Tania John is co-founder of Women's Adventure Expo CIC and project lead for Managing Menstruation in Extreme Environments Project (MMiEEP) - an initiative which aims to identify and explore issues around menstruation in extreme or challenging environments around the world, looking at many different factors including types of environment, activities, stage of life, contraceptive use, cultural considerations, and practicalities in the field such as environmentally responsible waste management. The project seeks to encourage solidarity between women, promote their health and wellbeing, including participation in adventure and outdoor activities, and ultimately to produce useful, practical, evidence-based information and guidance for women and organisations. Tania is a medical doctor with experience in travel medicine, occupational health and international primary care.
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Dr Victoria Newton is a Senior Research Fellow in the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies at The Open University. Victoria leads the Reproduction, Sexualities and Sexual Health research group at the OU. Her research focuses on reproductive health, including contraception, abortion, menstruation and fertility. She specialises in qualitative research, and research on sensitive subjects.
Victoria has been researching menstruation for over 12 years. Her interest began when she was a postgraduate student at the University of Sheffield, studying for a MA in Folklore and Cultural Tradition. During this time Victoria gave a presentation on ‘the folklore of menstruation’ at a Sheffield postgraduate conference. This research sparked her interest and she then went on to research contemporary popular knowledge and belief about menstruation for her PhD (2011). Victoria’s PhD was funded by the AHRC and addressed ways in which lay-knowledge and everyday experience influence the social and cultural constructions of menstruation. The research was interdisciplinary, and drew its inspiration from social anthropology, popular culture and folklore studies. Victoria published this work as a monograph Everyday Discourses of Menstruation with Palgrave Macmillan in 2016.
Her later research has explored bleeding in relation to hormonal contraceptive methods. She is interested in hormonal contraception and the manipulation of bleeding, the symbolic significance of bleeding (as an indicator of non-pregnancy) and the experience of side-effects, such as irregular bleeding. Victoria’s research has had a broad focus on reproductive stigma and, within this, menstruation-related stigma.
Lara Owen is in the final year of a PhD in the Department of Management, Monash University, Melbourne. Her current research focuses on two innovations: the menstrual cup and the menstrual workplace policy. Lara has been writing and researching on menstruation for over 25 years, studying women's lived experience in a range of contexts. An early menstrual activist and a pioneer of destigmatised cultural reframing of the menstrual cycle, she is the author of Her Blood is Gold: Awakening to the Wisdom of Menstruation (1993, 2008).
Lara has worked in the women's advocacy non-profit sector and for universities and other institutions as a consultant and researcher on menstruation, menopause, and women's health and safety at work, most recently for the United Nations on the intersections of gender, business, and human rights. Born and educated in the United Kingdom, she has also lived in the USA, France and Australia, and plans to return to the UK following completion of her doctorate in 2019. Her most recent article is ‘Menstruation and Humanistic Management at Work: The Development and Implementation of a Menstrual Workplace Policy’, published in the Journal of the Association of Management and Education Development. Her next project will be a book on menstrual activism and political economy.
View Lara’s Website and Academia.edu profile
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Dr Carrie Purcell is a Research Fellow at the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow . Carrie is a medical sociologist who specialises in qualitative and mixed-method research on sexual and reproductive health and health inequalities. She is currently at the planning stages of a new qualitative study of menstruation-related stigma and menstrual equity in Scotland (2020-23). As part of a programme of abortion research on which she leads, Carrie is also PI on the Wellcome-funded Sexuality and Abortion Stigma Study (SASS, 2018-20), which is exploring the potential for qualitative secondary analysis of a range of recent abortion-related datasets to inform understanding of abortion stigma. She is current co-chair of the Interdisciplinary Research on Sexual Health Network (IReSH), and a collaborator on the My Body, My Life project. Carrie’s research takes an interdisciplinary approach, with interests including menstrual health and equality; abortion and reproductive justice; stigma; gender; embodiment; and evaluation of health interventions.
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Dr Camilla Mørk Røstvik is Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the School of Art History at the University of St Andrews. She works on the visual culture and institutional power structures of menstruation from 1970s to the present day. Her PhD is from the University of Manchester. Camilla is Principal Investigator on this grant.
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Kate Sang is Professor of Gender and Employment Studies at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh. Her research and teaching explore the sociology of work with a particular interest in gender, and disability at work. Most recently Kate has been working on disability inclusive science careers (funded by the EPSRC), and menstruation and gynaecological health conditions and academic careers. Kate is the former chair of the Feminist and Women's Studies Association UK & Ireland. Kate is passionate about improving the working conditions of academics, particularly those who continue to experience marginalisation and discrimination. A member of the Heriot Watt branch of UCU, Kate is the equality officer and committee member.
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Dr Kay Standing is a Reader in Gender Studies, Department of Sociology, Liverpool John Moores University, UK. She is currently co-investigator on the British Academy GCRF collaborative research project ‘Dignity without Danger: Collaboratively analysing stigma and taboos to develop innovative strategies to address menstrual exclusion in Nepal’ with Dr Sara Parker. Her previous British Academy funded research looked at the distribution of menstrual products in Nepal. Kay is currently collaborating with Dr Sarah Zipp to research the ‘On the Ball’ campaign and the provision of free menstrual products at football stadia in the UK. Her research is concerned with moving the debates beyond the provision of, and access to, products to examine the complexities of the experiences of menstruators, and the social construction of the menstrual body.
Kay was an expert advisor on the Plan International UK ‘Break the Barriers’ report on girls experiences of menstruation in the UK. She also works with The Period Project Merseyside and Women’s Health Information Centre, Liverpool.
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Emily Stewart is co-founder of The Real Period Project CIC, a UK social enterprise working to promote wellbeing through accessible and sustainable menstrual cycle education. She is a nurse and educator, working with young people in and out of school, parents and teachers, covering everything to do with managing periods and the menstrual cycle. Coming up in 2019 Emily will be leading a study into the effect of menstrual cycle awareness and charting on wellbeing and attitude towards menstruation in groups of teen girls in Bristol and Bath.
Dr Pamela Warner is a Reader in Medical Statistics at the Usher Institute of Population Health Sciences and Informatics, University of Edinburgh. Pam’s research career began in the MRC Centre for Reproductive Biology, encompassing research on sexual health, contraception, and health conditions related to the menstrual cycle. She subsequently moved to the University of Edinburgh to set up an MSc in Epidemiology, and once there developed her own programme of research in women’s and reproductive health, in particular heavy menstrual bleeding. While Pam’s background is medical statistics, her interest in women’s health has steered her towards mixed-methods and qualitative research. Pam is a member of the FIGO international Menstrual Disorders Working Group, a Co-Director of the Centre for Families and Relationships. She has recently had great pleasure in developing, for the Institute’s online MPH programme, an interdisciplinary course titled Societies Reproduction and Health, which of course includes consideration of menstruation from the perspectives of public health, reproductive rights, and gender equality.
View Pam’s university profile
Dr Sarah Zipp is a Lecturer in the Faculty of Health Science and Sport at the University of Stirling (UK). Her research focuses on sport for social change, gender equality, international development and health education. Sarah is currently working on two projects on menstruation in sport, menstrual health education through sport in Zambia and an evaluative study of the On the Ball campaign in UK football.
In Zambia, she is collaborating with the National Organisation for Women in Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation (NOWSPAR), the Women Win Foundation and Kalitasha, Ltd. to develop physical activity focused menstrual health education activities for adolescent girls. In the UK, Sarah is working with Dr Kay Standing to evaluate the impact of the grassroots On the Ball campaign for menstrual products at football stadia.
Sarah has taught at universities in the United Kingdom, Netherlands, United States and Singapore. She earned her PhD in Development Studies at Erasmus University in the Netherlands.
View Sarah’s research profiles on Research Gate and Google Scholar
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