Women Lead 2024 — Erin McDonnell: Seeing those who fight against the odds

Author: Mary Kinney

Erin McDonnell, Notre Dame du Lac and Kellogg Associate Professor 1200x
Erin McDonnell, Notre Dame du Lac and Kellogg associate professor. Photo credit: Barbara Johnston.

Notre Dame sociologist Erin McDonnell interviews, observes, and guides those who are trying to improve their situations—whether it’s a mediator in Ghana helping citizens navigate a complicated judicial system or female managers in the West African country’s water sector.

She takes a similar approach to mentoring students, guiding undergraduates as they discover their passion for research and their potential to conduct it independently and internationally, or helping graduate students find their voice in crafting proposals or developing their dissertations.

"In both cases, part of my message is to say, ‘Some of what you’re doing is better than you realize it is already, and if we shine it up a little, you can really see what you’re doing more clearly and grow that,’” McDonnell said.“It’s not all perfect, and that’s OK, but we can move in a growth direction.”

In honor of International Women's Day, read more about McDonnell's work, as well as the story of seven other Notre Dame women who are innovating in their fields to help the University become a powerful means for doing good in the world.

Women Who Lead 2024