York researchers receive $1M to support gender and race equality research 

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Two York researchers from the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) have been awarded with funding to address system barriers faced by underrepresented groups in Canada. 

Andrea Emberly
Akolisa Ufodike

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) awarded funding to Akolisa Ufodike and Andrea Emberly for the Race, Gender and Diversity Initiative to fund community-led research partnerships grounded in the lived experience of underrepresented or disadvantaged groups that analyze the causes of systemic racism and discrimination. The initiative encourages intersectionality – a term coined by African-American scholar Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw – as a research approach to understanding how identities such as race, gender, class and sexuality, and power structures intersect to create various modes of discrimination and privilege, advantage and disadvantage. 

“York champions research that aims to address and advocate for underrepresented groups in Canada. By creating new knowledge and opportunities for addressing systemic barriers faced by refugee groups and Black Canadians, we are contributing to healthy, happy and more vibrant communities,” says Amir Asif, vice-president, research and innovation. “I’m delighted to congratulate Andrea Emberly and Akolisa Ufodike for their purposeful research that will have a positive change on vital communities we serve.” 

“This success reflects the Faculty’s great strengths in developing research programs that partner with racialized and vulnerable communities, and our investments in supporting community-based research,” says Ravi de Costa, associate dean research in LA&PS. 

Fostering opportunities for Black professionals in Canada’s business discipline 

Ufodike, an assistant professor from the School of Administrative Studies, was awarded $449,432 over three years for his project “A practice theory approach to diversity on boards and in business practice.”  The research is in collaboration with Oliver Okafor, assistant professor, Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University). 

Ufodike’s research investigates the barriers that prevent Black people from participating in the business discipline in Canada. Working with Students Against Anti-Black Racism, the John Ware Institute and the Directors College, his research will engage members of the Jane and Finch community, which has the highest number of Black people and immigrants per capita in Ontario, and provide resources, opportunities and networks that will support diversification in business. 

The study is the first Canadian business study to document the data on Black students and professionals. It will employ case studies, focus groups and workshops that include educators and employers and use field experiments to test the impact on training, mentoring and placement for getting Black directors on boards.  

Mobilizing music to address systemic barriers for refugee children and youth 

Refugee children and youth face substantial discriminatory assumptions about their experiences and lives that can serve as systemic barriers to their settlement and well-being.  

Emberly, associate professor in the Children, Childhood & Youth Program in the Department of Humanities, is the principal investigator for “Singing our stories: Networking community musical practices with refugee and newcomer children and young people,” which received $447,117. She will work with co-applicants LA&PS Postdoctoral Fellow Kate Reid, Professor Andrew de Quadros (Boston University) and Mirna El Sabbagh (COSTI Immigrant Services) to amplify the voices of refugee and newcomer children and young people experiencing displacement, migration and settlement. 

The project works in close collaboration with children and young people who are reclaiming and telling their own stories as a way to share insights into their experiences through processes of forced migration. The research aims to mobilize arts and music-based program delivery to support wellbeing goals by understanding, acknowledging and investing in the lived experiences of refugee children and youth.