Projects

Understanding consent: fundamental differences between men and women 

Maggie M. Parker ’17

Sexual violence against women is pervasive, particularly during the college years. This project examines how nonverbal behaviors may be misperceived by men as indicative of consent, and how these behaviors may have a cumulative effect on consent perceptions. It will examine how conflicting information may influence evaluations of consent and how cumulative consent operates when a woman responds ambiguously or overtly rejects sexual advances. This project will allow the researcher to assess what behavioral responses are indicative of consent, in what situations individuals may be most at risk for sexual assault, and how person-level factors may influence these evaluations of consent. The information gathered as to what situational and dispositional factors may lead someone to perpetrate sexual violence will help to guide later prevention and intervention efforts.

Empowerment through consent: An analysis of sexual violence and pleasure in college hookup culture

Emily Mendelson and Emily Lancia
Women have historically been viewed as sexually submissive. This narrative is particularly dangerous for young women and girls who have internalized sexual scripts of coercion and passivity, especially those who may be sexually inexperienced. This project studies college women’s actual hookup encounters as told by the young women themselves; it aims to prioritize young women’s voices and to “flip the script” of sexual submissiveness in young women and girls. An emphasis on differences in consensual behaviors across sexuality and gender can help create measures to mitigate sexual violence. The data from the research will be used to craft more pertinent narratives about consent and to raise awareness of effective consensual behaviors; our goal in the study is to mitigate violence and increase sexual agency for young women and girls on college campuses.

Developing peer-led sex-education programs for college-aged women

Samantha A. Wagner, MS ’17, and Allison M. McKinnon, MS ’18

School-based education on women’s sexual functioning often neglects important topics including desire, pleasure and assertive communication of women’s own needs. Even relatively “sex-positive” curricula typically focus on avoiding negative outcomes instead of increasing positive outcomes. Though there are interventions developed for secondary school students, few interventions target college-age women and girls. We propose a randomized, controlled trial of peer-led sexual-education programs comparing a traditional sex-education curriculum against an adapted, sex-positive curriculum with a particular focus on pleasure and awareness. The researchers’ goals include increasing women’s ability to communicate their own sexual needs and desires in sexual interactions; increasing women’s insight into and understanding of their own sexual motives, desires, anatomy and potential for pleasure and intimacy; and developing an educational intervention that can be effectively implemented in residence halls on college campuses.

The Well-Calculated Household: Ideology and Enumeration in the Early American Domestic Sphere

Erica Schumann ’17

Despite recent efforts to encourage women to enter STEM fields, gendered stereotypes continue to inhibit the participation of women in fields focused on math and science. These stereotypes first gained significant traction during the early 19th century when learned men deemed women to be ill-suited for training in math and science, arguing that these fields did not hold practicalrelevance in women’s daily lives. This project observes the women who defied these stereotypes in their homes and local communities by incorporating science and mathematics into the domestic sphere, and challenges historians of education by emphasizing the practical uses of numeracy within the early American household. By investigating the origins of gendered beliefs about numeracy and scientific thinking, the researcher can better assess the continued inequality in so-called “male” fields like science, mathematics and technology and help recover the complex and intricate history of how women directly contributed to the rational calculation movement.

Women as ‘Nodes of Change’

Myra Sabir

This intervention research has significance for women’s economic stability, family well-being and power to generate change. The researcher will publish findings from 38 women participants, gathered through the Life Writing process in a longitudinal study initiated in spring 2019. The Life Writing process guides women step-by-step through eight 2-hour sessions of deeply engaging, private and transformative writing through significant, unresolved memories. The researcher will guide these women’s newly uncovered capacity for influence toward women’s forms of leadership through a piloted Women’sGenerative Leadership Institute, with women as the nodes of change. Grounded in historical matriarchal leadership models that prioritize the well-being of all society’s members as an end in itself and the means to all other socially desirable ends, the project aimsto explore the potential for social impact rooted in each woman’s own tacit knowledge base.

Human Trafficking Data Project (HTDP)

Suzy Lee

The discourse around human trafficking is characterized by a number of unresolved debates among scholars, activists and policy-makers about such fundamental questions as how the issue should be defined, yet these debates are often conducted without the benefit of robust data to help clarify theories and resolve disputes. This projectproposes to create a large-scale data set on human trafficking in the U.S. — one that does not yet exist in the field — using data gathered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) through its T-visa application process. This data set will ameliorate a long-standing obstacle for researchers, policy-makers and activists working to address the problem of trafficking, on which, because of its illegal and clandestine nature, it has been difficult to gather comprehensive and reliable data. What data exists suggests that the vast majority of human trafficking victims are women and girls. The detailed data available through the T-visa application process will facilitate research and the development of better policy for prevention and support for survivors. The research findings will contribute to existing understandings of why people become victims of human trafficking, the circumstances under which they are able to extricate themselves from such situations, the obstacles to emancipation and the value of victim assistance programs.