Honorary Professor Kaitlynn Mendes

Dr. Kaitlynn Mendes

Honorary Professor in Gender, Media and Sociology

Email: km350@le.ac.uk

About Me:

I am a feminist scholar whose work sits at the intersections of media, sociology, education and cultural studies. I have written widely around representations of feminism in the media, and feminists’ use of social media to challenge rape culture. I am particularly interested in the everyday experiences of using digital technologies to speak about feminist issues and have written about the #MeToo movement and other relevant feminist campaigns. More recently, I have been interested in issues of online sexual harassment in school settings, and translating my research findings to impactful resources for schools and young people. I am author or editor of five books including the award winning SlutWalk: Feminism, activism and media (2015), Feminism in the News (2011) and Digital Feminist Activism: Girls and Women Fight Back Against Rape Culture (2019, with Jessica Ringrose and Jessalynn Keller).

Personal details

  • Bachelor of Journalism, Carleton University, Canada, 2005
  • PhD Journalism Studies, Cardiff University, 2009

I am an active member of the IAMCR’s Gender and Communication Section and have acted as Co-Chair (2012-2016) and Vice-Chair (2011-2012). I currently sit on the International Council (2016-present).

I also serve on the MeCCSA Women’s Media Studies’ Network Executive Committee (2009-present).

I was co-editor of Feminist Media Studies Commentary and Criticism section from 2008-2013, and currently serve on their editorial board. I am on the editorial boards of Sex Roles (2021-2024), and the International Journal of Communication (2020-present).

I serve on the Peer Review College for Britain's Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) (2015-2018).


I currently lead an MA research methods module (MS7400) and lead the third year Media and Gender module (MS3000), while contributing to a range of other modules in the department.


Please see this link.


My main area of research falls in the field of feminist media studies. I am an expert in

  • #MeToo
  • Online sexual harassment
  • representations of feminism in mainstream and social media
  • digital feminist activism
  • rape culture
  • feminist digital labour
  • trolling against women
  • feminist digital cultures


Funded research:

Combatting gendered, sexual risks and harms online during Covid-19: Developing resources for young people, parents and schools. UKRI Covid-19 Rapid Response Calls. (Feb 2021-Dec 2021) (£217,577).

Working with Professor Jessica Ringrose (UCL) and Dr. Tanya Horeck (University of East Anglia), I am PI on this study seeks which to assess the impact of COVID-19 and social isolation on young people’s experiences of online sexual risks and gendered harms during this period of increased reliance on screens. Through surveys and focus group interviews with up to 2k young people (ages 13-21) and 100 parents/carers, the study will address gaps in knowledge by exploring young people’s differing experiences of online sexual harassment during Covid-19, in relation to gender (girls, boys, gender non-conforming), sexuality (LGBTQI+) and other intersecting identities. The study’s central aim is to develop a set of interactive digital resources that provide accessible and tailored advice and information for young people, teachers, and parents, on how to stay safe online during the pandemic and beyond

Developing Digital Defence & Activism Lessons (AH/T008938/1) Follow-on-Funding for Impact and Engagement. (July 2020-July 2021) (£98,424.91).

I am the Principle Investigator on this 12 month project alongside Professor Jessica Ringrose (University College London), and the sex education charity Sexplain. Building from our successful AHRC grant on tackling rape culture, we will partner with the charity Sexplain, teachers, digital storytelling experts and social media influencers to develop and deliver “digital defence” training for young people to challenge rape culture in predominantly online spaces. The grant will result in key outcomes including new workshops for secondary school pupils, supplementary resources to support this, and teacher training sessions on how to deliver the workshops.

‘Let’s Talk About Sexual Violence: An Artful Intervention’, ESRC Impact Acceleration Account, Large Rapid Response Scheme. (2020) (£7,500)

I am Principle Investigator on this funding scheme alongside Dr. Anna Carline (Liverpool), Clare Gunby (Birmingham), Harriet Smailes (Leicester), and artist Kajal Nisha Patel. The funding is used be used to support the development of the TalkSV exhibition and the associated website, which aims to inform and educate the wider public, students and young people, as to the reality of, and laws relating to, sexual violence. More specifically the money will be used to support the following activities: 1) re-exhibit the exhibition at the Universities of Leicester, Newcastle, Liverpool and Birmingham; 2) Development an online/virtual exhibition; 3) Support the further development of the website linked to the exhibition; and 4) Collect evidence of the exhibition’s impact.

Developing School Policies around Gender and Social Media Use, University of Leicester QR Funding, (2019-2020) (£10,000)

The aim of this project was to develop a comprehensive guidance for secondary schools on how to tackle the problem of online sexual harassment. Online sexual harassment refers to a range of behaviours where digital technologies are used to facilitate both virtual and face-to-face sexually based harms.

Drawing from interviews with seven safeguarding leads in UK secondary schools and a survey with students aged 13-18, and working in close consultation with key stakeholders and project partners such as Sexplain, Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command (CEOP), and the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), the policy details the laws relevant to these issues and provides recommendations for school staff in terms of pastoral care, whole school approach and curriculum content.

We have also provided additional guidance for young people, including links to resources which outline their legal rights, and links to organisations which can help remove sexually explicit images online.

Click here for a short survey before accessing the resources.

Click here to access to the Online Sexual Harassment Comprehensive Guidance for schools.

Click here to access the Online Sexual Harassment School Policy

Click here to access the Online Sexual Harassment for Students.

Challenging Misconceptions, Raising Awareness and Improving Legal Responses to Sexual and Gender-Based Violence’, Impact Development Fund, University of Leicester. (2019-2020) (£11,212).

I am Principle Investigator on this project, which rolls out workshops developed with the Relationship and Sex Education charity Sexplain to develop appropriate responses to the pressing issues around youth and (feminist) political activism, digital literacy, mental health, teacher training and online safety. Funding will be used to roll these workshops out to 20 schools who lack funds to bring in this specialised training, and deliver workshops to 250 PGCE students at the University of Leicester. Funding is also used to record these sessions to extend their shelf-life beyond the funding period.

Feminism and Activism: speaking out, crafting and using digital platforms’, ESRC Festival of Social Sciences. (2019) (£992.70)

Working with the sex education organisation Sexplain, we will participate in the ESRC Festival of Social Sciences to deliver two workshops to secondary students in Leicester and Bristol which aim to support young people to explore different ways to use digital platforms to speak back to social injustices and develop their digital literacies

Digital Feminist Activism: The Social and Informational Affordances of Twitter, University of Western Ontario. (2019-2020) ($10,000 CDN)

I am Co-I on this grant funded by the University of Western Ontario, Canada, with Professor Annabel Quan-Haase worth $15,000 CND to do a comparative big data, and qualitative analysis of three contemporary hashtags - #MeToo, , #Cuéntalo, and #BalanceTonPorc. This is the first study to take a comparative approach by looking at three hashtags simultaneously and developing comparative insights across contexts. Of particular interest for our proposed study is the ways in which women who engage in the #MeToo, #Cuéntalo, and ##BalanceTonPorc discussions negotiate both the challenges and opportunities of such discussions as well as the affordances and limitations of the main platform on which these discussions have taken place.

Challenging Rape Culture: Fostering discussions around power, porn and patriarchy, RIKE Internal Funding, (2018) (£933.95)

I was awarded this funding to develop impact for my 4* impact case study for REF 2021. The funds were used to increase and measure the impact and engagement with the play Wood funded by Arts Council England funded, The North Wall, and Peggy Ramsay Foundation, which is part of the annual Vault Festival, and runs from 27th Feb - 3 March 2019. I was a consultant on the play which tackles issues of power, privilege and pornography.

Documenting Digital Feminist Activism: Mapping feminist responses to new media misogyny and rape culture (AH/L009587/1). (2014-2016) (£136,872)

I am the Principle Investigator on this 21-month research grant, worth over £135,000 and funded by the AHRC. Working alongside Professor Jessica Ringrose (University College London), and Dr. Jessalynn Keller (University of East Anglia), in response to a growing awareness of (online) harassment, misogyny and rape culture, this project seeks to document a range of digital feminist activism responses to these practices.

The project also seeks to understand the experiences of girls and women who participate in this activism and further to document these feminist activist practices and experiences through the creation of a living archive of contemporary digital feminist activism.

Case studies include The Everyday Sexism Project, Hollaback!, and the use of Twitter hashtags such as #beenrapedneverreported and #carrythatweight. The project has significant impact potential and we are working closely with a number of stakeholders including End Violence Against Women and other feminist associations.

Investigating the Transitional and Teen News Audience (2009)

I was a Co-Investigator on this AHRC/BBC Knowledge Infusion project, working alongside Dr. Cynthia Carter (Cardiff University), Professor Stuart Allan (Cardiff University), and Professor Maire Messenger-Davies (University of Ulster).

Lasting 12 months, this project was a follow up to a larger grant (on which I was a research assistant) examining what young people want from the BBC in terms of news provision. This project involved travelling around the UK to speak with young people in order to find out what sort of news content they were interested in, and how this would best be delivered.

Throughout the project, we worked closely with the BBC, particularly its flagship children’s news programme Newsround, whose producers adopted several of our recommendations.


I am particularly interested in supervising students in the following areas:

  • Representations of feminism, feminist activism or movements in the media
  • The use of social media to challenge harassment, sexism and misogyny
  • The prevalence of, and affect of cybersexism and trolling, particularly on women and feminists
  • Gendered newsroom cultures - policies on enacting change, or better understanding current conditions.

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Contact Details

School of Media, Communication and Sociology

Campus based courses
E: mcs-enquiries@le.ac.uk
T: +44(0)116 252 3863

Distance Learning Courses
E: css-dl@le.ac.uk
T: 0116 252 3755

Research degrees (campus-based and distance learning courses)
T: +44(0)116 252 2785
E: MCS-Research@le.ac.uk

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