Today's 5 Questions comes from Dr. Laura Way. Her book Punk, Gender and Ageing: Just Typical Girls? which comes out later this year, gives a voice to ageing punk women and shows how they retain punk in their lives.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Laura Way and I currently work as a research fellow at the University of Lincoln (UK). I'd describe myself as a feminist sociologist, interested particularly in issues around ageing and gender. Punk has been part of my life since I was a kid and this is something I am interested in academically too (my PhD research focused on the experiences of older punk women). I'm a steering group member of the Punk Scholars Network and up until recently had been running themed events locally with my friend/colleague Francis Stewart - these mixed typical academic elements (e.g. presentations) with things such as live music, documentaries and fundraising for local charities. The research project I've joined at UoL is a four year study of young fatherhood, focused on their parenting experiences and journeys as well as exploring their support needs.
Who or what inspires you?
Growing up a lot of my inspiration came from musicians. I play guitar and bass (though largely just bass now) and remember seeing D'Arcy playing with the Smashing Pumpkins on Top of the Pops and thought she was just amazing and I wanted to be in a band. Then I found bands like Hole, Babes inToyland...and looked up to musicians like them. Now I largely look up to a number of great women in academia who are engaging in really important (and interesting) work but there are still some musicians too who I think are amazing role models - Ren from the Petrol Girls, for example, is just amazing in the music she's involved in, her energy on stage, her lyrics and her activist work. And I'm not sure whether this is so much inspiring as maybe provoking(!) but I'm forever reading about ways that society is shit, frankly, and that kind of stuff keeps me wanting to engage in research which can have a meaningful impact as well as speaking out about issues impacting individuals in society and such.
What challenges do you face?
Writing this in the current COVID-19 situation there are so many new challenges! But I'll speak more generally than that... Sexism, racism, transphobia, ableism and other forms of discrimination exist in academia just as they do outside of it. And that is the case too within lots of punk scholarship. A big challenge for me too which has been ongoing for 5 years now and is more to do with my personal life has been parenting!
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Getting my PhD was definitely a highlight. I completed it part-time whilst working full-time to fund it and during my PhD I also had a baby. It felt like a struggle a lot of the time but it was something I had wanted for so long. I knew I wouldn't be able to finally go down the career path I wanted unless I did it. And it was great to meet and speak with so many fantastic women - some of them I am still in contact with now.
What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
A dream would definitely be to get back into music somehow - I really, really miss being in a band and gigging. In terms of hopes...I hope I can help make a difference to people's lives through the research I'm involved in or, at least, help make people's voices heard more. And I hope I can raise a child who is kind and caring but not afraid to speak up for what is wrong!
Laura's book, Punk, Gender and Ageing: Just Typical Girls? will be out later this year! You can keep up with her and punk scholars network on the following links! Thanks for taking time to talk to be Laura!! All the best for the book release.
Punk Scholars Network: http://www.punkscholars.net/
Her book can be found here:
And just for you, Laura.... Here's The Smashing Pumpkins on Top of the Pops!!!