See a retrospective on Fran’s career via: “Fifty years of Sex Work Research in Canada: a researcher and advocate’s story”
Frances M. Shaver received her doctoral degree in Sociology from the Université de Montréal in 1987. Currently a professor emeritus in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Concordia University, she has been conducting research on various aspects of the sex industry since 1983 when she worked for the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women (CACSW).
Between 1990 and 2005 Dr. Shaver participated in three Canadian government funded research projects focusing on people working in the sex industry (PWSI), two as the principal investigator and one as a co-investigator. The first explored gender differences in the work patterns of street-based sex workers in Montreal and San Francisco while the second compared the working experiences of sex workers and hospital workers in Montréal and Toronto. The third—conducted with Jacqueline Lewis and Eleanor Maticka-Tyndale (University of Windsor) and partnered with several community organizations in Toronto and Montréal (Exotic Dancers’ Association of Canada, Maggie’s, Stella, and Peel Public Health)—examined the impact of public policy on the health and well-being of PWSI in two major Canadian cities. This Sex Trade Advocacy and Research project (STAR) produced two reports for policy makers, a series of information pamphlets for workers in the sex industry, and several published articles. (The project website contains these and other resources: www.uwindsor.ca/star).
She is currently involved in a research program funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). The team—including researchers, knowledge users, collaborators and community partners from across Canada and internationally—is working collaboratively to study the reasons for variability in health and safety among sex workers, many of whom face elevated risks of violence and premature death. Headed by Cecilia Benoit (University of Victoria), the project covers the sex industry in six municipalities across Canada (Victoria, BC; Fort McMurray, AB; Calgary, AB; Kitchener-Waterloo, ON; Montréal, QC; and St John’s, NL). The study involves a 360 degree analysis of the sex industry (including interviews with sex workers, their romantic partners, clients, supervisors/managers, as well as police, municipal officials, and other regulatory agencies. (For more details see the project website: www.understandingsexwork.com).
Dr. Shaver acts as a knowledge mobilizer to the general public, as well as a scholar. In addition to initiating events bringing together community partners and other interested scholars and policy makers she has also responded positively to many invitations to speak with the media and meet with policy makers and community groups. She has appeared before and written briefs for House of Commons Subcommittees (including the Special Subcommittee on Pornography and Prostitution (1984) and the SSLR Subcommittee (2005)), Departments of Justice (Ontario, Québec, Canada), and a variety of NGOs. She has also prepared affidavits for two recent court cases challenging the constitutionality of Canadian prostitution laws: Bedford, Scott & Lebovitch v. AG Canada, 2007 and Sex Workers United Against Violence (SWUAV) & Kiselbach v. AG Canada, 2007.