New CDE Affiliate Profile: Leigh Senderowicz

Leigh Senderowicz, Assistant Professor of Gender & Women’s Studies, and Obstetrics & Gynecology

Dr. Senderowicz is a public health researcher and feminist social demographer focusing on global sexual and reproductive health and rights, race, gender, and coloniality.

What piece of your research you are most excited about at the moment?
It’s a really exciting time for my work on designing/measuring right-based indicators for reproductive health right now. For decades now, demographers have continued to use legacy indicators from the population control era to capture reproductive health outcomes, resulting in such a fundamental misalignment between what we care about on the one hand (reproductive rights, access to services, quality of care, etc.) and what we measure on the other hand (fertility outcomes, contraceptive uptake).  So it’s been really great over the past few years to get to help reimagine what our measurement agenda should look like, and then try to sort out how to actually measure those new priorities. This work is tied in with so many CDE themes, but is especially related to Fertility, Families and Households.

Is there any unfolding project, research conference/event, or upcoming speaking event you would like to highlight?
As part of the UW Collaborative for Reproductive Equity (UW CORE), we’ve just received funding for a new project that will help us design betters measures of contraceptive access here in Wisconsin. We’re delighted to begin working along with the state Department of Health Services for this project, and hope it will help us understand how we can better meet Wisconsinites’ contraceptive needs.

Are there any recent publications you would like to highlight for the CDE community?
A special issue of Studies in Family Planning just came out focusing on measurement innovations, and I’m really thrilled to have two articles featured in that. The first is a description of our attempt to measure a novel indicator of “contraceptive autonomy” for the first time at two research sites in Burkina Faso, and the challenges we face as we seek to refine and validate that metric [].  The second uses that same dataset from Burkina Faso to explore the relationship between the way we currently measure “unmet need for contraception” and self-reported desire to use contraception among current nonusers [note to Grace that we’re currently approving the final proofs and it should be available online very shortly]. The conventional “unmet need” indicator does a surprisingly poor job in our analysis of differentiating between those who report a lack of access to a wanted method from those who don’t.

We’ve made it to spring, but what is one thing you love about winter in Madison? 
This was our first winter in our new house here in Madison, and we’ve been particularly excited about the wood-burning fireplace. Nothing makes me feel cozier than warming up by the fire while it’s snowing outside.