Whisper Networks: A Discussion with Carrie Ann Johnson


What is a Whisper Network? What can you gain from being in one, and what is expected of the network members? Not everybody is invited is into a Whisper Network—which is part of how they keep members safe. But it’s also how many of the vulnerable are further left out. Today, Dr. Carrie Ann Johnson joins us to share her research on Whisper Networks, and their role in bridging the safety gap for vulnerable people. This episode explores:

  • Why formal reporting systems fail.
  • How whisper networks can offer safeguards.
  • Why some people who need to be in a whisper network aren’t in one.
  • Who gets left out, and why.
  • A discussion of the article “Whisper Networks Thrive When Women Lose Faith in Formal Systems of Reporting Sexual Harassment,” which you can access here.

CW: Examples of harassment (including sexual harassment) are included throughout this episode.

Our guest is: Dr. Carrie Ann Johnson, who earned a Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Professional communication from Iowa State University and received the Iowa State Research Excellence Award for her dissertation, "Whisper Networks: Sexual Harassment Protection Through Informal Networks." She earned a master’s degree in American Studies and a bachelor’s degree in journalism and public relations, both from Utah State University. She loves digging into difficult topics and opening doors for deeper contemplation about our lived realities. She is the Research and Outreach Coordinator for the Catt Center for Women in Politics, Iowa State University, and is on the editorial board of BONDS, where you can read more her work on whisper networks in organizations.

Our host is: Dr. Christina Gessler, who holds a PhD in history. She is a freelance book editor. She has served as content director and producer of the Academic Life podcast since she launched it in 2020. The Academic Life is proud to be an academic partner of the New Books Network.

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Christina Gessler

Dr. Christina Gessler is the creator, show host, and producer of the Academic Life podcast. She holds a PhD in U.S. history.
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