Leigh Senderowicz, ScD, MPH
Postdoctoral Trainee

Reproductive and Population Health


Leigh Senderowicz is a social demographer and mixed-methods researcher. Her research focuses on rights-based approaches to international sexual and reproductive health, studying the role of quantification and other structural factors in the production of reproductive health outcomes. Dr. Senderowicz manages a diverse portfolio of mixed-methods research throughout the world, but her particular geographic area of interest is francophone West Africa. Dr. Senderowicz will explore patient-centered measures for reproductive health and develop new approaches to measurement and evaluation that promote reproductive autonomy.


Ph.D. Global Health and Population, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

M.P.H. Women's and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD

Senderowicz publishes in Studies in Family Planning

Health Disparities Research Scholar Leigh Senderowicz, PhD, published the paper “Contraceptive Autonomy: Conceptions and Measurement of a Novel Family Planning Indicator” in the journal Studies in Family Planning in May.

Senderowicz outlines prevailing global health discourse on contraceptives, which sometimes measures the success of family planning programs by number of people using effective contraceptive methods. But in the publication, Senderowicz suggests a new indicator for successful family planning programs: contraceptive autonomy.

Defining contraceptive autonomy as the factors necessary for a person to decide for themself what they want in relation to contraception and then to realize that decision, this indicator divides the contraceptive autonomy construct into subdomains of informed choice, full choice, and free choice. By acknowledging that autonomous nonuse is a positive outcome, aiming to maximize contraceptive autonomy rather than use could help shift incentives for family planning programs and reduce some common forms of contraceptive coercion, as our measurement approach is realigned with our focus on highquality rightsbased care.”

Read the whole publication here. 

Senderowicz and Higgins publish in Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health

Health Disparities Research Scholar Leigh Senderowicz, PhD, and UW Collaborative for Reproductive Equity Director Jenny Higgins, PhD, MPH co-authored a Viewpoints article in the journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health!

In the article “Reproductive Autonomy Is Nonnegotiable, Even in the Time of COVID-19,” authors outlined concerns about ways COVID-19 may affect reproductive autonomy into the future, including additional barriers to abortion access and contraceptive services. The article covers issues in the U.S. as well as important global health considerations.

“The sexual and reproductive health field must continue to push back against threats to reproductive autonomy and work to ensure that all people are able to create the families they want in safe and healthy environments. During this global pandemic, there is no justification for governments or health care organizations or institutions to impose restrictions on individuals’ reproductive rights. Communities that are marginalized and discriminated against, especially racial and ethnic minorities, have already borne the brunt of the pandemic in many ways. Let’s not continue to devalue these communities by pushing potentially coercive, biased LARC-first programs to control fertility or make abortion more difficult to obtain.”

Read the whole article here.

Grand Rounds: Badger Bytes Contraception presentations

On August 20, 2020, three panelists presented brief lectures for the Badger Bytes Grand Rounds session themed around contraception.

Cynthie Wautlet, MD, of the UW Ob-Gyn Division of Academic Specialists in Ob-Gyn presented “Title X Reproductive Health Family Planning in Wisconsin: Challenges and Opportunities”. Health Disparities Research Scholar Leigh Senderowicz SCD, MPH shared the presentation “I was obliged to accept: A qualitative exploration of contraceptive coercion”. And the Badger Bytes session wrapped up with the presentation “The intimate link: Contraception, pleasure, and sexual well-being”, by UW Collaborative for Reproductive Equity Director Jenny Higgins, PhD, MPH.

Watch the Badger Bytes session here!

Senderowicz earns PRC grant

UW Ob-Gyn Health Disparities Research Scholar Leigh Senderowicz, ScD, MPH, earned a grant from the UW-Madison Prevention Research Center for the project “Understanding Structural Barriers To Contraceptive Autonomy Among Low-Income Black African Women In The Global South: An Exploratory Study. The grants support research regarding maternal and child health, and health equity.

With the grant, Senderowicz will use “in-depth interviews and focus group discussions…to generate a nuanced understanding of contraceptive autonomy among low-income Black African women of reproductive age living in a Global South setting.  The analysis will focus on multiple dimensions of choice and access to rights-based reproductive health care.”

Congratulations, Dr. Senderowicz!