As a global pandemic destabilized so much around all of us, it was a great privilege to have the support and resources of the Women in Government fellowship to conduct independent research during the summer of 2020. With COVID-19 bringing so much suffering and systemic inequity into focus, it was important to me to use this opportunity to study communities that are often left out of primary policy and emergency response considerations– often the targets of the worst impacts. I had the privilege of working with Dr. Sarah Khan, whose own research focuses on gender gaps in political preferences, to track gendered differences in state-level leadership in the United States during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Simultaneously, I worked as a legislative intern for the Office of Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, where I was able to critically engage with the practical issues of representation we discussed as a Women in Government cohort.

My research work throughout the summer involved gathering data on disparities on mask mandate timings, reopening timelines, budgeting for childcare and reproductive care, and gendered rhetoric in public statements. Dr. Khan and I also worked together to construct a research design syllabus that allowed me to explore various quantitative research methods as well as socio-scientific qualitative approaches to my own case studies.

One of the biggest values of this experience was learning with and from the Women in Government community. It was a pleasure to develop close ties with my cohort as we supported each other’s weekly research goals, and share our best practices while working towards the collective goal of strengthening the role of women in global leadership and politics. Additionally, the community of The Campaign School (TCS) was an excellent source of professional and personal development resources and workshops, accessible to us throughout the summer and beyond, as alumni.

My research aims to prove that women not only have unique perspectives to contribute to crisis response as a result of their diverse lived experiences, but that they also tend to manage crisis response in measurably different ways from their male counterparts. Rather than essentialize the talents of women in leadership to their gender, this research makes a concerted effort to instead argue that a diversity of representation improves crisis response broadly. Additionally, my work engages with the limitations of framing this inquiry within the gender binary, as well as concluding recommendations for future crisis response considerations. As I continue my academic and professional development, this knowledge informs my commitment to amplify and support other women in all aspects of life, and I am extremely grateful to the WIG fellowship for giving me the tools to explore my intellectual interests alongside my ethical convictions.

Shreeya Singh, History, TD ‘22