Twyla T. Blackmond Larnell, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
Project: Gender and Politics: The Underrepresentation of Women (of Color) in America's Mayoral Cities
Women compose approximately half of the American population. Despite the increase in electoral gains at the local level, women, especially women of color, remain underrepresented in municipal government, particularly the mayor’s office. The number of females leading American cities does not reflect the demographics of society and has significant implications for democracy and the representation of women in policy-making. The literature on women in politics has either focused primarily on national and state politics or relied on smaller datasets while ignoring the complicated relationship between gender and race. The paucity of research surrounding the study of the gender gap in political representation is disappointing. The purpose of my research project is to address the theoretical and methodological limitations in the literature by examining women (of color) mayors and the 1) factors contributing to their presence; 2) prestige of the mayoral offices held; and 3) political careers before and after their mayoral tenure. Three separate studies will be conducted utilizing a rich dataset that includes all American cities larger than 10,000 in 2011 as well as several variables collected from the U.S. Census, city websites, biographical statements and internet searches of local media. Unlike existing studies, this research 1) examines a much larger dataset that is representative of various city types and 2) considers the integrated effects of gender and race on women’s experiences as mayor. The Gannon Center Faculty Fellowship will support the pre-tenure research of a woman of color interested in developing a new line of scholarship that unravels the complexity of women in local politics, specifically in a position of leadership. The research has the potential to provide groundbreaking findings and compel scholars to delve deeper into this representational dilemma.
Anne Reilly, Ph.D., Professor
Quinlan School of Business - Management
Project: Women Leaders as Change Agents for Sustainability
Stewardship of the earth’s natural and human resources is part of the Jesuit tradition. Women are a critical force in support of proper environmental management, better quality of life, and greater social equity in the transition towards a sustainable world view. Despite women’s ongoing contributions as sustainability change agents, empirical research linking gender, leadership and sustainability is limited.
This study examines the gender composition of executive leadership and its sustainability impact in firms ranked highly by Newsweek’s “Green Rankings.” With global companies moving toward sustainability in their operations, women leaders may serve as catalysts in shaping this shift. The study combines my long-standing research interest in gender and careers with my more recent focus on organizational change and sustainability. While the proportion of women corporate leaders remains small, preliminary findings indicate that they may be disproportionately effective as sustainability change agents.
Data collection comprises both quantitative and qualitative methods in analyzing annual reports, corporate social responsibility reports, GRI documents, and statistics generated by UN agencies and the World Bank. Research questions include:
- Are firms ranked high in sustainability performance more likely to have female CEOs, a higher proportion of women in top management, and/or more women board members?
- Are women more likely than men to serve as corporate sustainability officers?
- How do women executives contribute to their companies’ sustainability initiatives?
- What characteristics are shared by women leaders in firms with a strong sustainability focus?
The research finds will be disseminated through publication and presentations on campus and at appropriate external conferences. In addition, the study results should inform coursework relating to sustainability, gender and diversity, and values-based leadership.
Dina Berger, Ph.D., Associate Professor
Project: Before the Good Neighbor: Civic Activism and the Origins of Inter-American Unity, 1907-1959
For nearly a century, women members of the Pan American Round Tables (PART) from Texas and Latin American have been leaders in the quest to bring about peace and prosperity in the hemisphere through education and public service. The group’s mission was rooted in “practical Pan Americanism,” a concept coined by John Barrett, director of the Pan American Union from 1907-1919, which made the aspiration of inter-American unity relevant and tangible for Americans. While progressive-era men in government and industry negotiated the economic and political terms of the emerging Pan American family, ordinary citizens could achieve practical results by promoting goodwill toward Latin America and its people. For internationalist-minded Texas women this meant learning Spanish, giving scholarships to Latin American women at Texas universities, organizing Pan American libraries, and hosting visiting diplomats at monthly luncheons. Acts like these became the model for civic activism within a more urgent Pan American movement signaled by the Good Neighbor policy and WWII. Before the Good Neighbor uncovers the origins of Pan Americanism, all too often attributed to a few exceptional men like Elihu Root and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and locates its enactment in non-governmental institutions like the Pan American Union and in women’s and men’s civic clubs like PART. By reframing our understanding of the Good Neighbor, this book decenters traditional top-down studies of hemispheric relations to document the seminal role played by non-elite actors, especially women, in shaping the course of twentieth-century U.S. foreign policy in Latin America based on values such as democracy (peace) and capitalism (prosperity) through a rhetoric of cooperation that ultimately solidified U.S. hegemony in the region.
Sandi Tenfelde, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
School of Nursing
Project: Yoga for Women to Self-Manage Urinary Incontinence Symptoms
Scope of the Problem: Women with urge urinary incontinence (UUI) have considerable symptom burden: the fear and anxiety of living with UUI and risk of potential embarrassment, results in psychological morbidity, impaired relationships, social isolation, and poor quality of life. Pharmacologic treatments for UUI have multiple adverse effects with decreasing efficacy in the long term, reducing the willingness of women to treat their symptoms with medications. Furthermore, new evidence indicates UUI symptoms are associated with elevated urinary proinflammatory cytokines, resulting in an imbalance of parasympathetic and sensory innervations of the bladder. Yoga, a popular mind-body therapy, may serve to benefit women with UUI by reducing UI symptom distress, perception of severity and impact on daily living. Moreover, increasing research demonstrates that the practice of yoga results in positive psycho-physiologic effects, including reduced inflammation.
Methods: This randomized controlled pilot study will use a psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) framework to advance understanding of symptom distress and to evaluate a self-care approach (yoga) for women to manage biobehavioral symptoms associated with UUI. Women with UUI symptoms (22/group) will randomized to either an 8 week, twice weekly yoga program or a control group. The specific aims are to:
(1) Determine the extent to which a yoga program reduces UUI symptoms (distress, severity, and impact on daily living).
(2) Evaluate associations among psychological stress, proinflammatory cytokines, sympatho-vagal balance and UUI symptoms in women completing a yoga program compared to control women.
Relevance: The evidence generated from this patient-oriented pilot study will provide preliminary data to support the submission of a larger grant with a sample size that has sufficient power. The goal of this research is to challenge current UUI treatment paradigms and to equip women with UUI symptoms with an acceptable and cost-effective approach to self-manage their symptoms; empowering them to live active, normal lives.
Dawn A. Harris, Ph.D., Associate Professor
Management, Quinlan School of Business
Project: Women Moving into Corporate Leadership Positions at Best Practice Companies
This research project builds on a previous article that received widespread media attention and was published in the Academy of Management Perspectives journal with my co-authors Constance Helfat and Paul Wolfson (Dartmouth College). Based on this data set of nearly 10,000 individuals, which yielded a comprehensive census of top executives in U.S. Fortune 1000 firms in 2000, a new analysis will be conducted to identify companies that have successfully moved women into the very top executive ranks and the approaches used by these best practice companies. The data analysis will develop results-oriented criteria for evaluating company success in promoting women to top leadership positions.
Relatively little work has focused on how a woman's choices can affect her career success. The research results will provide implications and recommendations for women to choose companies and industries that will promote women at different stages of their career (i.e., early in their careers, when switching companies, and when re-entering the corporate workforce). In addition, lessons from the best practice companies will assist companies with hiring, promoting, and retaining promising women in leadership positions.
Michelle Nickerson, Ph.D., Associate Professor
Project: The Camden 28: Fratres Sororesque in Pace
The Camden 28 was a community of peace activists--men and women--who joined similar units around the country to disrupt conscription operations to protest U.S. sponsored aggression in Vietnam. The group's weeks-long intricately planned action to invade the Federal Building and burn draft cards might have succeeded had the F.B.I. not managed to recruit a secret informant to infiltrate the conspiracy. Though caught red-handed, the Camden 28 escaped conviction in what Supreme Court Justice William Brennan describes as one of the "great trials of the twentieth century." The defendants represented themselves and won a full jury acquittal.
The Camden 28 worked in unison with other "Catholic Left" groups to deploy creative non-violence in America's eroding industrial sector. I am interested in how raiders drew from church doctrine, ethnic working-class identity, and the Catholic worker movement to develop a gritty rustbelt masculinity that shaped their critiques of the war and corporate capitalism. Though fully reliant on its female and male participants alike, Catholic Resistance nevertheless acquired a band-of-brothers image. The Camden 28, like the Catonsville 9, the Harrisburg 7, and the Milwaukee 14 cultivated themselves as hard-edged peace warriors in defiance of a military industrial complex that poached young men from the urban poor. These Christian activists claimed to have destroyed over a million U.S. selective service documents between 1967 and 1973. Many Americans are familiar with the heroic brother priests, Phillip and Daniel Berrigan, who launched the movement with the Catonsville raid, evaded arrest through the assistance of a sympathetic Catholic underground, galvanized other raiders, and eventually served several years in prison. Yet no scholar has written a historical monograph about the Camden 28 or systematically explored the role of women. Not only does this story diverge from the traditional narratives of secular campus protest and take place in a city Americans would prefer to ignore, but those 28 names do not include the famous "Berrigan." It is for all these reasons that I am interested in the Camden 28.
ROBYN K. MALLETT, Ph.D. - Spring 2013
Robyn Mallett, Assistant Professor of Psychology, is conducting research on the factors that affect women’s responses to sexual harassment. Many people expect that a “reasonable person” would make an assertive response to sexual harassment. In fact, United States’ law relies on a reasonable person standard when evaluating sexual harassment cases. If sexual harassment occurred, then a woman is expected to make an immediate and assertive attempt to stop the harassment. Yet existing research finds that assertive confrontation is the exception rather than the rule. This research project investigates how the situation in which sexual harassment occurs may reduce assertive responses, including direct confrontation of one’s harasser. Women face the “double bind” of being both respected and liked in the workplace. If a woman’s only goal was to be respected, then responses to sexual harassment would commonly include confrontation of the offensive behavior. However, women must also gain and maintain the liking of their colleagues and supervisors in the service of getting or keeping a job. This competing goal to be liked may make women more hesitant to confront because they believe that doing so may put their job in jeopardy. Understanding the situational factors that reduce assertive responses may remove some of the burden from the targets of sexual harassment and change expectations for what constitutes a reasonable response. Results of this research will be disseminated through teaching, publication, and presentations on campus and at national conferences.
JOHN DUGAN, Ph.D. - Spring 2010
John Dugan, Assistant Professor of Higher Education, currently serves as principal investigator for the Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership (MSL), an international research program examining the influences of higher education on the development of college students' capacities for socially responsible leadership. Data from the study was collected at over 100 colleges and universities in the US, Canada, and Mexico and represent more than 115,000 respondents. The study is theoretically grounded in leadership principles congruent with both social justice and feminist leadership philosophies. Data will be used to examine two major questions. First, what is the pathway through which college women's overarching leadership potential (i.e., leadership efficacy, leadership capacity, and leadership behaviors) is developed? Second, what leadership learning experiences contribute most significantly to increasing the leadership efficacy, capacity, and behaviors of college women? Significant impediments to women's attainment of positional leadership roles persist despite a half century of political and educational initiatives targeted at increasing gender equity (Carli & Eagly, 2007; Rhode & Kellerman, 2007). The fact remains that women do not advance to the highest leadership positions in the same numbers, at the same rate, or through the same paths as male colleagues; women often are expected to work harder, contend with hostile or dismissive environments, accept unequal pay, receive less developmental support and training, and are frequently excluded from critical social networks (Caldwell-Colbert & Albino, 2007; Eagly & Carli, 2007). Differential treatment hardly begins in the workforce, though, as it is also present in the educational pipelines purportedly designed to prepare women to assume successful leadership roles in their disciplines. Findings from this research will address educational pipeline issues directly. Result should inform women's studies scholarship, existing coursework on leadership and gender in the Higher Education graduate program, and educational practice related to developing women's leadership potential.
PRUDENCE A. MOYLAN, Ph.D. - Spring 2009
Prudence A. Moylan, Professor of History, is integrating her decade long work on women and men as peace activists in Britain into a book on gender and peacemaking in the twentieth century. She explores the collaboration and contention among peace activists, peace organizations and feminist campaigns for equality to explain the century long process of establishing gender equality in law and practice as an essential foundation for building a peaceful society. Feminist peace activism in the twentieth century always included an understanding that peace could only be built on a foundation of equal rights while men's peace activism focused primarily on issues of conscientious objection to military service and armaments limitation. Feminist women supported men in the peace campaigns they initiated and advocated for the inclusion of women's rights as a peace issue. They also recognized that they had to organize on their own behalf to gain equality within the peace movement as well as in national and international law. The book demonstrates the contribution of women's rights campaigns to creating a more inclusive and robust theory and practice of peacemaking for the twenty first century.
ANN M. SHANAHAN, M.F.A. - Spring 2009
Ann Shanahan, Assistant Professor of Theatre in the Department of Fine and Performing Arts, is conducting research on the subject of women and creative leadership in relation to domestic space, specifically houses. Celebrating the Gannon Center's "housing" in the beautifully renovated Piper Hall, and a career long fascination with women and houses in dramatic literature, this three-part project relates research and teaching to the potential of staging plays about women in Piper Hall. The work of this program will ultimately solidify a relationship between the Theatre and WSGS, benefiting both in material ways, enrich teaching and public visibility of both the Arts and Women's Studies in campus and Chicago communities, significantly advance the Gannon Center Mission in support of women and leadership, and benefit current students and alumni in education and career building for women in creative leadership. The three parts of the project include formal presentation of research from a book length project on women theatre directors in Chicago through organization of an event/lecture series on women, creative leadership, and concepts of home. In order to link the project to teaching, Ms. Shanahan will re-offer Women's Theatre Workshop and adapt A Room of One's Own, the metaphoric frame for the course, in conjunction. As a part of this course students may access the Women & Leadership Archives for material on women and theatre in Mundelein College as research for final original dramatic pieces. Finally, this project will explore the feasibility of staging plays about women and houses in Piper Hall with potential for creating a formalized program in coming years, housed in the Center, devoted to performing plays about women and supporting women in creative leadership. The final outcome of the fellowship program would be a staging of a pilot production in Fall 2010.