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Hello! I'm Maggie.


My research and teaching centers on organizational diversity and inclusion by identifying and overcoming intersectional and structural barriers in accessing and persisting within institutions of higher education, especially for women, LGBTQ+ students, and students of color. Ultimately, this is a question of inequality and social justice–how do institutions and communities, despite efforts of being inclusive, reproduce inequality in practice? 

My current research examines transgender inclusive admission policies at gender-selective women’s colleges through a multi-method collaborative ethnography. Of particular interest, my research questions how these policies construct exclusive discourses and experiences for non-normative gender expression and embodiment through practice, as complicated by the intersections of race, class, ability, and sexuality. 


I have published research out of this project in Gender & Society (2017, with David Brunsma), Advances in Gender Research (2017), Intersectionality and Higher Education (2019), Rethinking LGBTQIA Students in Collegiate Experiences (2019, with Z Nicolazzo and Kari Dockendorff), and Sociology Compass (2020). This work is supported by the National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant and the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellowship.

Through this work, I founded TransAdmissionPolicy.org, an open-access resource site advocating for transgender inclusion within gender-selective colleges. This organization offers comprehensive information for transgender and non-binary applicants and students of these colleges to make informed and empowered decisions regarding campus policies and culture, as well as policy and resource guides for faculty and staff. Through this organization, I work with a team of transgender students to center their experiences and knowledge of institutional issues, as well as offer institutional workshops and consulting to create inclusive and affirming spaces for transgender students to not only attend but thrive on campus.

From this project, my research has expanded into numerous other topics driven by the same goal of social justice:

  • Examining transgender exclusive radical feminism (AKA gender critical feminism)

  • STEM pathways and intersectional barriers

  • Undermatching in college persistence

  • Same-sex sexual assault and sexual violence within trans communities

  • Diversity within craft beer cultures

  • Montessori and social justice education

My other work is also available in Food, Culture and Society, Journal of LGBT Youth, Sexualities, Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, and Research and Higher Education.

Additionally, I co-chair the Sociologists for Trans Justice Advancing Trans, Non-binary, and Intersex Scholarship Committee with Blu Buchanan (and with Danya Lagos 18-19;  Jaclyn Tabor 2017-18), wherein I am a member of the executive council and authored the 2018 edition of the #TransJusticeSyllabus. I further consult for the Campaign for Southern Equality’s Southern LGBTQ Health Survey. Between 2013-2018, I served as the founding managing editor of Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, news editor for Sociology Lens, lead research assistant on the Broadening Participation in STEM project, and Research Associate at the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center. I have taught Sociology and Gender Studies Courses at Smith College, Virginia Tech, and Hollins University.

When not in the field or classroom, I live in with my fiancée Jess (also a sociologist), miniature Jack Russell Terrier Penelope, and cat Stevie. In my little spare time, I am a certified POUND Pro and enjoy teaching fitness classes, golfing, paddle-boarding, knitting, and baking (gluten free) treats.

Megan (Maggie) Nanney

PhD in Sociology & Women's and Gender Studies

I am a sociologist specializing in diversity, inclusion, and equity policy within higher education. As a trained social scientist, I have been taught to observe and examine the world through the eyes of those I study. Yet I’ve never conducted research just for knowledge's sake. My approach to diversity work is to examine the day-to-day experiences and practices of diversity--or how diversity "lives a life" (Ahmed 2012)-- rather than the mere presence of and commitment to diversity policies. I believe that it is imperative to improve the lives of the people I work with by listening to what it is they are trying to accomplish, understanding their challenges and needs, and using my insights to design solutions that help them achieve their goals. 

I received my PhD in Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies from Virginia Tech in 2020.  My recent work can be found in Gender & Society, Advances in Gender Research, Sociology Compass, Research in Higher Education, Sexualities, and the Journal of LGBT Youth and has been supported by the NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant and the National Academy for Education/Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellowship.



Dissertation Fellow


Visiting Instructor


Research Associate


Founding Managing Editor



Public Engagement


Megan Nanney


nanney.megan at gmail.com



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© 2020 By Megan Nanney