Research suggests that women and men legislators differ in their framing of policy issues. In studies comparing attitudes and vocabulary usage, women tended to conceptualize policy issues differently than their male colleagues. Kathlene Lyn designed an experiment testing this theory, finding that women and men legislators in Colorado considered the origins of and solutions to crime differently. Through my research, I hoped to test the generalizability of this study, by applying this hypothesis to the topic of economic opportunity through the policy issue of payday-loans. Based on existing evidence, I hypothesized that women legislators would refer to economic issues from a contextual standpoint, in this case using situational words to describe the high number of payday-loan borrowers. In contrast, I hypothesize that male legislators use language more instrumental in nature; alluding to the idea that people are autonomous individuals responsible for their own successes and failures.
My experiences with this research project opened me up to a new set of skills and experiences that I know will be valuable when applying for graduate school. I would advise students to get started on a research project as early as possible in your academic career. Figure out what you're passionate about, and find a mentor in your field.
Presented at NCUR 2018, and at Curiosity 2 Creativity 2018 Spring Symposium, Received "Best Broadest Impact" award