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Jessica Spence

Degree, Program, and planned date of graduation:
Ph.D., Virginia Tech, Agriculture and Life Sciences, 2025.

  • Concentration: Agricultural Communications
  • Certificates: Women & Gender Studies; Education & Evaluation Research
  • ICTAS Doctoral Scholar

Dates of working with the WGD Program:
I have been working with the WGD team since 2022.

In 50 words or less, explain your work associated with the WGD Program:
In 2021, I presented at the Women and Gender in Development Conference, beginning my relationship with the WGD program. Upon deciding to attend Virginia Tech for my doctoral degree, I was invited to give the presentation “Speaking for Themselves: The Importance of Enabling Women to Share Their Story Through Photography and Community Dialogue” as part of the Women and Gender in International Development Discussion Series, organized by WGD at the Center for International Research, Education, and Development (CIRED).

Since then, I have been working on an Independent Study under the guidance of CIRED faculty member Maria Elisa Christie. Within the Independent Study, I have continued to engage and aid with the WGD Discussion Series and work on multiple research projects with Dr. Christie. Lastly, Dr. Christie serves on my dissertation committee, overseeing my use of methods and the topic of gender in international agricultural development.  

What are you looking forward to during your time with the WGD program?
I look forward to learning from, and working with, like-minded researchers who are also interested in women’s and gender issues in international development–specifically within agricultural contexts.

What do you hope to do after graduating or what are you doing now?
Post-graduation, I intend to pursue a faculty position that allows me to continue my line of research in gender-based agriculture issues in within an international development context. I also hope to continue utilizing qualitative, participatory, and arts-based research methods.

How will your work with the WGD program influence your future?
The WGD program allows me to work with researchers interested in topics similar to mine. Often, it feels like a small, niche research topic; feminist research in an American context is not always applicable to development issues and research in developing nations. Therefore, working with scholars involved with WGD allows me to grow and learn from researchers in my field.