Laura Cayen

headshotAssistant Professor

Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies
BAH (Windsor), MA, PhD (Western)
Office: Lawson Hall 3233
Phone: 519-661-2111 ext 82794


I hold a BA from the University of Windsor and an MA and PhD in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies (formerly Women’s Studies and Feminist Research) from Western. My PhD thesis, “’In the end, it’s your pleasure that’s on the line’: Postfeminist, healthist, and neoliberal discourses in online sexual health information”, was supported by a SSHRC CGS Doctoral Award. In my current research, I collaborate with PI Jessica Polzer to examine how people engage with menstrual and fertility self-tracking apps.

Undergraduate Teaching

Currently on a teaching-intensive appointment with Western, I have taught our department’s Introduction to Gender and Women’s Studies course since 2015.  This course is the most exciting to teach because it invites students to reflect on their personal (gendered, raced, classed…) location in society and address the issues they think are most in need of activism or change.  In my upper-year courses on sexuality, media, and popular culture, I emphasize active learning including through the use of Western’s Active Learning-Technology Classrooms.

Some of the courses I’ve taught most recently include:

  • GSWS 1020 Introduction to Gender and Women’s Studies
  • GSWS 2273 Sexual Subjects
  • GSWS 3153 Bad Girls: Sexual Dissidence in Popular Culture
  • GSWS 4461 Postfeminism, Advertising, and Influencers


Graduate Teaching and Supervision

My graduate teaching includes our Feminist Methodologies course (GSWS 9464).  I supervise Master’s students conducting discourse or other analyses of digital and social media in the areas of health, sexuality, subjectivity, and representation.

I have supervised over 40 new and seasoned Teaching Assistants and am thrilled to lend mentorship, support, and solidarity to TAs and other contract or contingent faculty.

Select Presentations and Publications


Polzer, J., Sui, A., Ge, K. and Cayen, L. Empowerment through participatory surveillance? Menstrual and fertility self-tracking apps as postfeminist biopedagogies. In Fellows, J. and Smith, L. (Eds.), Gender, Sex, and Tech!  An Intersectional Feminist Guide. Canadian Scholars and Women’s Press.  Forthcoming, 2022. 

Potvin, J. and Cayen, L. Plan International’s Digital Empowerment Campaign: Unlocking Healthy Futures for Girls?  Sent out for review Sep. 2021.

Polzer, J., Cayen, L., and Molinaro, M. (2020). The shifting politics of health in Canada: Papanicolaou (Pap) screening, human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination, and cervical cancer prevention.  In Manon Tremblay & Joanna Everit (Eds.) Palgrave Handbook of Gender, Sexuality, and Canadian Politics (pp. 485-506). Palgrave MacMillan.

Cayen, L., Polzer, J., & Knabe, S. (2016). Tween girls, human papillomavirus (HPV) and the deployment of female sexuality in English-speaking Canadian magazines. In Jessica Polzer and Elaine Power (Eds.) Neoliberal Governance and Health: Duties, Risks and Vulnerabilities (pp. 82-107). Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Presentations and Panels

Evoy, J., Prest, D., Baada, J., & Snooks, G. (March 2021). In L. Cayen (Chair), Interviews as Feminist Methodology: Graduate Experiences from the Field. Round Table conducted at Western University, the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies. Invited.

Potvin, J. and Cayen, L. (June 2019). Unlocking Digital Futures for Girls: Healthism, Postfeminism and Futurity in Plan International’s Digital Empowerment Campaign.  Paper presented by J. Potvin at Women’s and Gender Studies, Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Cayen, L. (February 2018). “Adjust your level of mental desire”: Sexual imperatives in online sexual health information.  Guest Speaker Series at Lakehead University, Department of Women’s Studies. Invited.

Cayen, L. (May 2017). Queering Sexual Health: Discourses of responsibility for marginalized youth in online sexual health information.  Paper presentation at Sexuality Studies Association Conference at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, Ryerson.

Cayen, L. (May 2016). Risky Pleasures: Feminist critical discourse analysis of online sexual health information. Paper presentation at Moving Forward: Identities, sexting, schooled bodies, and the curriculum that frames us. International Symposium at Western University, Faculty of Education.