My dissertation explores the intersections of gender, governance, and biomedicine. I examine two sites in particular, the first being the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which regulate the inclusion of sex and gender in federal government-funded biomedical research in the United States (US). The second site is international sport and the eligibility rules of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) governing the participation of female athletes with naturally elevated testosterone.
My research examines: the policy development process; how governing bodies like the NIH and IOC construct sex and gender and the relationship between them; the role of feminists in embracing or contesting such policies; and the ways in which these regulatory efforts shape broader understandings of sex and gender-based difference. My mixed methods approach combines archival data, semi-structured interviews, and textual analysis.
Gender and Leadership
In this research I consider how the current under-representation of women among Olympic leaders relative to Olympic athletes can be explained through a historical analysis. In particular, I examine this discrepancy be explained by examining how the International Olympic Committee (IOC) developed historically as a gendered institution in which women athletes and leaders were differently positioned. Drawing on archival and interview data, I consider how women athletes and leaders in the Olympic Movement were differently framed, differently impacted by organizational rules and procedures, and advocated for by different groups and individuals during 1967-1995. In this work I seek to provide explanations for the persistent under-representation of women in Olympic leadership and other areas of sports governance and may inform policy and advocacy efforts to address remaining imbalances. Moreover, I aim to contribute a new perspective on women’s representation, extending understanding of how the divergence between women’s base-level participation and their representation in positions of leadership and decision-making can be traced to institutional processes.
Governance, Disability and Gender
Also drawing on semi-structured interviews and archival materials collected at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) headquarters in Bonn, Germany, in this project I examine how governing practices shape the intersection of disability and gender in the context of international sport. As with my work on the Olympic Movement, I focus here on the Paralympic Movement and the role of the IPC (and its predecessors) in creating particular opportunity structures for women athletes and leaders. I examine how the presence of disability as an organizing principle, in intersection with gender, creates specific challenges for women that were not present in the Olympic Movement. In doing so this project seeks to extend understanding of how the governance of disability is gendered.
My masters thesis focused on participatory budgeting, a process that allows residents to decide how to spend a particular pot of public money. There are a number of ways that residents can participate, from the initial collection of ideas to the final vote. The process therefore offers opportunities for residents to apply and extend or start building their civic skills, knowledge, and networks. I'm analyzing which residents were most involved in the Chicago process in 2011-2012 in order to assess how well they achieved their stated goal of involving residents other than the "usual suspects:" white, highly educated, wealthier, older residents from the four wards of the city that participated. This is also a mixed methods project involving both interviews and survey data, although I'm currently developing a paper based primarily on quantitative methods, co-authored with Professor Chaeyoon Lim.
You can read more about PB Chicago here.