Janet Billson


Group Dimensions International

jmbillson [at] gdiworld.com


16 Otis Shores
Woolwich, ME 04579
United States

Brief Biography

Janet Mancini Billson is a native of Canada. She attended one-room schools in southern Ontario and completed her education through high school in British Columbia.

Dr. Billson is the author of multiple articles on Inuit women and culture in Canada; she is working on a new book on refugee/migrant women in Canada, including Inuit and Cree women in Winnipeg:
In Focus: How Systematic Focus Group Research Can Inform Your Evaluation. Washington, DC: The World Bank Group (An Independent Evaluation Group Blue Book), forthcoming, 2016.
Inuit Women: Their Powerful Spirit in a Century of Change, with Kyra Mancini (Boulder, CO: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007). A study of the impact of rapid social change and Canadian resettlement policy on Inuit culture and women's status and roles in Baffin Island, Northwest Territories; section on the newly-created territory, Nunavut. Nominated for the Pierre Savard Award, International Institute for Canadian Studies.
Female Well-Being: Towards a Global Theory of Social Change, with Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban (London, England: ZED Books, 2006). (Chapters on Sudan, South Africa, Bangladesh, Thailand, Japan, Colombia, Canada, United States, Iceland, Croatia, and United Kingdom; reviewed by Faye V. Harrison, “Reconciling Perspectives on the World’s Diverse Women and Cultures of Gender: Toward New Syntheses for the 21st Century,” in Anthropology Now: Essays by the Scientific Commissions of the IUAES & History of the IUAES. Peter J.M. Nas and Zhang Jijiao, eds. Beijing, China: Intellectual Property Publishing House, 2009 (IUAES Commission on the Anthropology of Women).
Keepers of the Culture: The Power of Tradition in Women's Lives. (New York: Lexington Books, 1995/Ottawa: Penumbra Press, 1999).
Based on interviews with women in Canada of Chinese, Mennonite, Blood, Iroquois, Jamaican, Ukrainian, and Inuit ancestry. A cross-cultural exploration of women's changing roles and power. (Portion reprinted in “A Brief History of Matrilineal Culture in Ukraine,” Surviving Together, Winter 1995:49-50.)
Inuit Women: A Century of Change, with Kyra M. Reis, a study of the impact of rapid social change and Canadian resettlement policy on Inuit culture and women's status and roles in Baffin Island);

Keepers of the Culture: The Power of Tradition in Women's Lives (1995/1999, which includes a chapter on Inuit women); and numerous articles and book chapters on women and identity.

She has lectured widely on women in Canada, Native women, Inuit women and their families, and Nunavut.

As a sociologist, she specializes in gender and identity, particularly as affected by rapid social change and development. She interviewed Inuit women and men on Baffin Island, including dozens of focus groups. She developed a unique feminist research methodology in order to ensure that women in each community engaged in the process of interpreting data, testing emerging hypotheses, and reviewing the final draft of their community's chapter.

She received her Ph.D. in sociology from Brandeis University and was a professor of sociology and women's studies at Rhode Island College for 18 years. In 1999 she was named Alumni of the Year at Baldwin-Wallace College and in 2000 she received the national Sociological Practice Award from the Society for Applied Sociology. She was Visiting Professor at The George Washington University until 1996 and has since directed a small consulting firm focusing on international development. Billson has served as associate editor of the Canadian Review of American Studies and is active in many professional organizations, including the Lecture topics include:

Her Powerful SpiritInuit Women in a Century of Change

Keepers of the Culture: Common Pain and Uncommon Strengths Among Canada's Native Women

Defining a New Inuit Identity: Taking Nunavut into the 21 st Century

Gender, Power, and Ethnicity in North America: Significance in the Next Century

Domestic Violence in the Context of Inuit Culture

Janet Billson shows related slides in order to stimulate discussion and obtain feedback from both general and academic audiences.

Science Specialties

Inuit culture, social change, women's studies
Evaluation of international development programs

Current Research

Impact of resettlement from the land into hamlets on Canadian Inuit. Changing role of Inuit women from whaling period to present. Creation and impact of new territory, Nunavut. Inuit social issues (substance abuse, suicide, family violence).