Despite the turbulence of COVID19, this summer I had the pleasure and honor of completing a research project on a topic that truly fascinates me with the support of the Women in Government fellowship. I worked with a former professor, Dr. Sarah Khan, who conducts research at the intersection of politics and gender studies to build out a research proposal and project regarding the gendered differences in state-level leadership during the pandemic. It was my responsibility to not only gather data on disparities on mask mandate timings, reopening timelines, budgeting for childcare and reproductive care, and gendered rhetoric in public statements—I also constructed a research design syllabus with the approval of Dr. Khan to gain a more thorough understanding of socio-scientific qualitative methods before beginning my own case studies. Of course, I learned so much about pandemic response and gender politics from my research, but I also grew personally in many ways. I learned how to time manage under uncertain conditions, as this long-form research project forced me to consistently budget out time throughout quarantine to keep myself accountable to my research goals. I also adapted to frustrating challenges, such as being unable to access library resources directly and dealing with various internet and connectivity issues—ultimately, I have released the value of persevering and reaching out for help when necessary. It meant so much to me to have the support system of this fellowship and to experience this summer with the support of a cohort of women working towards the same kinds of goals. The uncertainty of this pandemic has led to a lot of stressful experiences for people across sectors of society, and something that kept me focused on my education and professional growth throughout the turbulence was the knowledge and responsibility that came with knowing that the WIG fellowship was investing in me as an individual and thinker. This experience taught me how to use quantitative strategies in my research, how to speak with confidence and articulate in professional settings, and how to network and manage connections in the COVID-19 era. The lessons we learned in session with Patti and other speakers from TCS have prepared me to present myself confidently and professionally throughout the rest of my career, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to collectively discuss the lessons we learned with the other incredible WIG fellows from this summer. I think The Campaign School is an exceptional program, and I hope that I can one day take a full course on site. While it was disappointing to be unable to connect with all the incredible mentors and faculty at TCS, the fellowship did a great job of keeping us updated about ongoing webinars and events hosted by TCS. Additionally, our periodic sessions with Patti were not only extremely informative, they also helped us build a sense of community with each other and learn from the expertise of TCS. One of the reason I undertook my research project was my frustration with the deep lack of women’s representation and equality at the highest rungs of our government. My research proves that women not only have unique perspectives because of their lived experiences, but that they also tend to manage crisis response in measurable different ways than their male counterparts. It mattered a lot to me to avoid reducing the talents of women in leadership to their gender, but to rather argue that a diversity of representation improves crisis response by bringing in more considerations and perspectives. As I continue my academic and professional development, I will carry this knowledge with me and do all that I ca to not only amplify and support other women, but also advocate for their importance in all levels of governance and policy.
Shreeya Singh, History, TD ‘22