My research interests revolve around questions of identity, belonging, and representation in politics. Women and gender are often central to my studies. I take a multidisciplinary approach to my research, drawing on scholarships from political science, sociology, women's studies and Canadian studies, to name a few. Depending on the project and the questions I want to address I also use both qualitative and quantitative methods. Most of my research is collaborative, and I have been very fortunate to work with and learn from some outstanding scholars along the way. Below you can read a bit about some of my recent and ongoing projects:
Women in the (Other) House: An Analysis of Gender Representation in Canada's Senate (2015-2019)
This project is funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Insight Grant (2020-2025). In it, I seek to study women's representation in the Senate of Canada. The central research question of this study asks: what does a gender-balanced Senate mean for women’s equality outcomes in Canada? To answer this question, the project has three objectives: (1) to analyse the Senate’s institutional rules and norms from a gendered perspective; (2) to evaluate women’s representative roles in this institution; and (3) to examine how and in what ways gender considerations have been integrated into the Senate’s legislative processes.
Gendering the Upper House: Combatting Sexual Harassment in Canada’s Senate in the #MeToo Era
This project is funded by a James R. Mallory Grant (2019-2020) from the Canadian Study of Parliament Group. In the study I will analyse recent efforts to address sexual harassment in the Canadian Senate from a gendered perspective. I will also evaluate how and in what ways women have participated in policy discussions that will better protect people from violence and sexual harassment within the Senate. The goal of the project is to further develop best practices for legislative bodies seeking to (re)design rules that prohibit violence against women in politics, broadly defined (ie. administrative and political staffers, Senators, members of the press, visitors, interns, etc..).
Understanding Violence Against Women in Politics
This project is in partnership with Dr. Cheryl N. Collier (University of Windsor), Dr. Grace Lore, and Equal Voice and is funded by a Partnership Engage Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (2017-2018). Andrea Spender, a PhD student in Policy Studies at Ryerson, is also a team member and R.A. on this project. Our goal in this study is to understand how and why sexual harassment happens in Canadian politics in order to stop it. To do so, we are conducting a comprehensive scope review of global best practices on dealing with violence against women in legislatures and of international NGO activities and responses to this problem.
Gendering Canada's Legislatures: a comparative examination of federal, provincial, and territorial efforts to combat sexism and sexual harassment in politics
This project is in partnership with Dr. Cheryl N. Collier (University of Windsor) and is funded by an Insight Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (2018-2021). In this project our goal is to understand how legislatures across Canada have sought to address the problem of sexual harassment in politics. To do so, we employ a Feminist Institutional perspective to examine the codes of conduct and policies at the federal and provincial level in Canada. We are interested in assessing how and why some legislatures have responded to this problem while others have not, and for those that have adopted formal rule changes, whether we can expect these changes will make legislatures safer for female politicians.
Symbolic Entrepreneurs: The Role of Party Leaders in Constructing National Identity in Canada
This project is in partnership with Dr. Tim Nieguth (Laurentian University) and was funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Insight Development Grant (2015-2017). In this project our goal is to understand how party leaders use political symbols to craft distinct versions of national identity. Our research focuses broadly across several symbolic domains: Speeches From the Throne, banknotes, official state apologies, and political campaigns/party platforms. Our aim is to show, firstly, how symbols can be used for strategic purposes by political leaders and secondly, the malleability of national identity over time.
Other projects include research on voter perceptions of former Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne (based on gender and sexual orientation), western regional identities in Canada, and gender in the Canadian Parliament.