WPSP Hosts Second Annual Student Scholar Day

On Thursday, April 13th, the Women in Public Service Project (WPSP) hosted the Second Annual Student Research Competition. This annual event gives young women scholars who have conducted research in the field of women’s leadership or political participation the opportunity to present their work at the Wilson Center. The goal is to equip and promote the next generation of female leaders. In addition to their presentation, the students met with the Wilson Center experts Allison Garland, Blair Ruble and Schuyler Null and with representatives from DC based organizations.

The 2017 Student Scholars were Kiersten Schneider (Wellesley College) and Marie Wilken (Smith College). Schneider, a double major in Philosophy and Political Science, presented her research paper entitled “Resistive Voices: Storytelling as a Means to Creative and Collective Activism”. Through examples from Anita Hill, the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates and the author and feminist activist Grace Lee Boggs, Schneider studied how storytelling can be used as a catalyst towards the empowerment of self and marginalized communities. “The empowerment of black women can act as a catalyst for empowerment of an entire community,” she explained. As a practical example, she showed how the movement #SayHerName used story telling as a political force.

Wilken, a junior double majoring in Government and English, presented her paper “Make America 41st Again: Factors That Slowed America’s Relative Growth in Women’s Representation.” Women’s representation is growing at a slower pace in the United States than it is in other countries: in 1997, the United States ranked 41st globally in terms of women in government; in 2016, it ranked 95th. Through case studies of Bolivia, Macedonia and Senegal, she identified some factors affecting women’s representation. One of the most influential factors she identified was democratization, noting that “after a country becomes more democratic, representation goes down and then comes back up.” Wilken also studied the questions of culture, economy, electoral systems and quotas. Bolivia, for example, saw a sharp change in women’s representation after its introduction of quotas.

Following their presentations, the students participated in a “speed-networking” event with representatives from DC-based organizations, including Jennifer Blitz, a Senior Program Manager at Democracy International; Clare Bresnahan, Executive Director at She Should Run; Jessica Grounds and Kristin Haffert, founders of Project Mine the Gap; Hayley Humiston, Program Coordinator for the Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN); Allison Ivie, Director of Strategic Planning and Research at Women’s Health Consulting; and Brooke Stedman, Deputy Director of Women in International Security.

The WPSP would like to thank its partners and the 2017 student scholars for this engaging day of academia and exemplary leadership. Research submissions for the 2018 Student Scholar Day will open in Fall 2017.