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@ John Blanton/

Research team

Martin RobbMartin Robb

Principal Investigator

I’m a Senior Lecturer in the School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care at The Open University (OU), where my research has focused mainly on issues of masculinity and caring, including studies of men working in childcare, fathering identities and boys’ relationships with their mothers. I’m currently chair of a module in The Open University’s MA in Childhood and Youth and have contributed to a wide range of other modules. Before joining the OU I worked in a variety of adult and community education projects.

Brigid FeatherstoneBrigid Featherstone


I’m currently Professor of Social Work at Huddersfield University and was formerly Professor Social Work in the School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care at The Open University. My research interests span the areas of gender, inequality, child protection and family support.  My applied research and evaluation projects have included exploring how fathers engage with and are engaged by children’s social care services and advocacy services in child protection.  I am increasingly involved in exploring how more supportive and responsive services for families experiencing multiple forms of deprivation might be developed in the context of child protection.  I have recently completed a literature review on innovative and participatory methods of researching the experiences of families with complex needs. I am a co-founder of an international network on gender and child welfare.

Sandy RuxtonSandy Ruxton


I have been an independent consultant since 2007, and have undertaken policy and research-related commissions for a range of national and European organisations. Prior to this I worked as Policy and Communications Manager for Oxfam's UK Poverty Programme. My main research interests are: masculinities and public policy; men as carers, both as fathers and as workers in services; life course issues, especially the experiences of socially isolated older men; and gender and poverty. Most recently, I was Principal Investigator for a study for the European Institute for Gender Equality on involving men in gender equality.

Michael WardMichael Ward

Research Assistant

My work has largely focused on young masculinities and my doctoral research was an ethnographic study that centred on the lives of a group of young working-class men (aged 16-18) in a community in the South Wales Valleys. Drawing on the work of Erving Goffman I examined how respondents educational pathways and leisure interests impacted on their performances of masculinity within a former industrial space. My other work has examined the transport needs of older people in rural Lincolnshire. Alongside colleagues at the University of Lincoln, I wrote a report seeking to develop community transport in the county. Apart from research, I have taught sociology at both further and higher education institutions to students of all ages and am an Associate Lecturer at The Open University and at the Lifelong Learning Centre at Cardiff University.

Contact us

For further information about the research project and for all media enquiries, please contact:

Martin Robb (Principal Investigator)
Brigid Featherstone (Co-Investigator)

School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care
Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies
The Open University
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes
United Kingdom