Melissa R. Gilbert
Interim Department Chair
Office: 309 Gladfelter Hall
Tel: 215 204-7692
Areas of Expertise
Urban Geography; Feminist Geography; Feminist Theory; Critical Race Theory; Urban Social Theory; Social Action Research; Urban Labor Markets; Urban Poverty; Societal Dimensions of Information and Communication Technologies; and Social Movements.
Ph.D. Clark University, Geography, 1994
M.A. Clark University, Geography, 1991
M.A. University of Sussex, England, Urban and Regional Studies, 1988
B.A. Clark University, Geography and Political Science, 1986
London School of Economics, England, 1984-1985
Dr. Gilbert’s research interests are in areas of urban geography, feminist and critical race studies, and social action research. She has approached these broad and interconnected fields through theoretically informed, empirical research examining how urban and economic processes construct, and are constructed by relations of power and inequality.
Dr. Gilbert is particularly interested in the barriers that poor women of various ethnic/”racial” groups experience, and the individual and collective survival strategies that they employ, in attempting to support themselves and their families. And, because she is interested in social change, and the role of academics and research in this process, she has utilized social action research as part of a broader feminist methodology.
Her primary research contributions have been to offer alternative theoretical and methodological approaches to study the intersection of gender, racism, and space to further our understanding of labor markets, urban poverty, community organizing and digital inequalities. Previous research, supported by the Fulbright Commission, the National Science Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council, examined how marginalized groups get incorporated into the urban labor market; how labor market inequalities get reproduced through space and in places; and the relationships among social networks, employment strategies and urban poverty. This research demonstrated how context, place, and space matter to women’s daily experiences of poverty, the opportunities and constraints that poor women experience, and the manner in which social policy is implemented. And, because implementing progressive policies to eliminate poverty requires political action by poor people that is grounded in their lived experience, she became interested in the growing anti-poverty movement. Specifically, her research has examined how the current political and economic conditions have resulted in an emphasis on organizing across race, class, and gender boundaries and a strategy of jumping scale from local to international forms of organizing and resistance.
In the last fifteen years, Dr. Gilbert has focused on the relationships among access to information and communication technology (ICT), poor women’s economic opportunities, and poor people’s community-based organizing from a feminist geographical perspective. Her research on digital inequalities focuses on the relationships among access to information and communication technologies (ICTs); economic, educational, and health disparities; and poor people’s community-based organizing in the United States.
Her current research seeks to understand the relationships among technological and social capital embedded in particular neighborhoods, occupational sex and race segregation, and access to and use of ICTs in areas important to people such as jobs, education, and political participation. By understanding the relationships among gendered, racialized and place inequalities in terms of access to ICTs and economic empowerment, this research will contribute to policy discussions about how to empower people living in poverty.
Dr. Gilbert is beginning a project to develop a more nuanced understanding of the “achievement gap” between racialized minority and white students in the United States through a critical geographic analysis. The goal is to explore to how the nexus of race, gender, and place shapes the educational disparities that are represented in the outcome of the “achievement gap” between white and racialized minority students in US metropolitan areas.
Her research has been supported by the Fulbright Commission, the National Science Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council. Her research has been published in journals such as the Annals of the Association of American Geographers, the Professional Geographer, Urban Geography, Geoforum, Transactions in GIS, and Information, Communication & Society.
Dr. Gilbert is currently on the editorial boards of Urban Geography, Gender, Place, and Culture: a Journal of Feminist Geography, and Temple University Press. She is Director of the Greater Philadelphia Women’s Studies Consortium comprised of thirteen area gender and women’s studies programs. Dr. Gilbert currently serves as Graduate Chair in the Department of Geography and Urban Studies. Dr. Gilbert is a past-president of the Geographical Perspectives on Women Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers and received the 2011 Jan Monk Service Award for contributions to the advancement of women and feminist geography in the discipline and the broader public.
Dr. Gilbert has worked with a number of community organizations related to economic empowerment and digital inequalities. She is currently an elected school board director of the Lower Merion School District in suburban Pennsylvania where she is interested in digital inequalities, connecting curriculum and technology, and attracting girls and underrepresented minorities into STEM fields.
Gilbert, M. and Masucci, M. (2011) Information and Communication Technology Geographies: Strategies for Bridging the Digital Divide. University of British Columbia, Canada: Praxis (e)Press. Available Free as a downloadable PDF file.
Halford, S., Savage M., and Gilbert, M. Editors (2010) Technical Capital and Social Inequalities Special Issue. Information, Communication & Society. 13(7):937-1059.
Gilbert, M. (2010) Theorizing Digital and Urban Inequalities: Critical Geographies of “Race”, Gender and Technological Capital.Information, Communication & Society. 13(7): 1000-1018.
Gilbert, M. (2010) Social Justice and Web Science: Theory, Praxis and Everyday Life. In: Proceedings of the WebSci10: Extending the Frontiers of Society On-Line, April 26-27th, 2010, Raleigh, NC: US.
Gilbert, M. (2010) Place, Space, and Agency: Moving Beyond the Homogenous Ghetto. Urban Geography. 31(2): 148-152.
Gilbert, M. ,Masucci, M., Homko, C., and Bove, A. (2008) Theorizing the Digital Divided: Information and Communication Technology Use Frameworks among Poor Women using a Telemedicine System. Geoforum 39: 912-925.
Gilbert, M. and Masucci, M. (2008) Reflections on a Feminist Collaboration: Goals, Methods, and Outcomes. In Feminisms in Geography: Space, Place, and Environment. Ed., K Falconer Al-Hindi and Pamela Moss. Rowman and Littlefield, pp. 237-246.
Gilbert, Melissa and Masucci, Michele (2006) The Implications of Including Women's Daily Lives in a Feminist GIScience. Transactions in GIS 10(5): 751-761.
Gilbert, Melissa and Masucci, Michele (2006) Geographic Contributions to E-Collaboration Research. International Journal of E-Collaboration Research, 2(1):i-v.
Gilbert, Melissa and Masucci, Michele (2005) Research Directions for Information and Communication Technology in Geography. Geoforum 36(3)277-79.
Gilbert, Melissa and Masucci, Michele (2005) Moving Beyond “Gender and GIS” to a Feminist Perspective on Information Technologies: The Impact of Welfare Reform on Women's IT Needs. In A Companion to Feminist Geography. Edited by J. Seager and L. Nelson. Blackwell Publications, pp.305-321.