Since its inception the network has been committed to providing an inclusive and supportive space for all its members. The Steering Committee has been having discussions for over a year about the goals of our network, one of which is to be an inclusive space for research and collaboration. We have discussed whether the name of our network is a good fit, and particularly whether it communicates that this network is also a space for non-binary, trans and gender-non-conforming research and researchers. Our concern was that our name (Violence Against Women & Girls Research Network) may unintentionally be acting as a barrier for trans, non-binary and gender-non-conforming colleagues to join us. We want a name for the network that accurately reflects both the researchers in our network and the research they are conducting. In the Autumn of 2021, we conducted a short survey of network members to obtain their views. Approximately a fifth of the members completed the survey. There was an even split in responses in favour and against a name change. Responses addressed the tension between the discussion we are having, often acknowledging the importance and need for inclusion as well as highlighting the value of spaces that specifically address violence against women and girls. The VAWGRN Steering Committee reviewed and analysed the survey responses individually and discussed them during a committee meeting in January 2022. Following the meeting we held an anonymous vote including the options to keep the name the same or change it. The outcome of the vote (7 versus 5) is that the name of the network will stay the same however we will start using a long strapline: An inclusive and intersectional space dedicated to research that is by and for women of all backgrounds and identities, holding things in tension, stronger together and a short strapline: An inclusive space for all women, stronger together to emphasise that we are an intersectional and inclusive space (context will determine which strapline will be used e.g. short one on twitter, long one on the website). We will review this decision in 5 years’ time.
We were overwhelmed with the time, care and thoughtfulness members put into their answers so as a result in the summer we will be putting together a longer piece which provides much more detail and nuance about the process we’ve been through, the survey findings and the challenges of holding things in tension.