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Emilia Belknap

Emilia Belknap
Name
Emilia Belknap
Title
Organisation
Politics and International Relations School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh
Address
Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
Telephone
E-Mail
Research Interests
Voting Behaviour, Electoral and Referendum behaviour, Devolution and constitutional change in the UK, Feminist Theory, Gender and Politics, Feminism, Feminist Theories and Research Practices, Political Behaviour, Mixed methods, Quantitative Methods, Qualitative Methods, Experimental Methodologies, Surveys, Focus Groups, Gender Theory
URL
http://www.sps.ed.ac.uk/gradschool/community_and_representation/research_student_profiles/politics_and_ir/emilia_belknap

PhD Title

Feminizing the Gender Gap: A Feminist Approach to Understanding Gender Gaps in Support of Independence

Guidance & Feedback Hours for Students: 

  • * Please email me at EBelknap@ed.ac.uk to set up appointments.

Research Summary

Current PhD Title: Feminizing the Gender Gap: A Feminist Approach to Understanding Gender Gaps in Support of Independence

My project investigates the nuanced relationship between gender and constitutional change using Scottish Independence as a case study. My project works to understand why women and men had different preferences towards constitutional change in Scotland seen in the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum, what the causal mechanisms were behind these differences and explores to what extent the gender gap still exists.  

Despite having prominent senior female politicians, Scottish politics contains gender gaps across a range of political participation features like voting behaviour, representation, and support. Women are often homogenized into one voting identity regardless of background, race, age, nationality, and categorized as risk-averse conservative voters or lacking a strong pro-national identity. Various surveys have been conducted in the last two decades in an attempt to reveal why Scottish women are less inclined to support independence and arguably nationalist political behaviours as a whole. However, researchers have been left puzzled and have pointed to a range of potentialities: risk-aversion, national identity, lack of women’s voices in debates, minority representation, ambiguity aversion, and a difference in the prioritisation of social issues.  

Most importantly, my project makes an argument as to why a shift in methods is required to untangle the complexities of gender and constitutional preferences from a feminist approach. Often, quantitative methods are administered to this phenomenon using sex as a proxy for gender. My project illuminates what previous data has shown us but also, what is still missing. My project argues that in order to ‘get at’ these issues, there is a need to understand subjective meanings beyond quantitative inquiry that have been internalized by different genders before, during, and after the 2014 Scottish independence campaign. By focusing on the Scottish electorate and analyzing their relationship to national identity, risk-aversion, and representation, this project hopes to highlight the nuances in constitutional preferences and independence and speak to common themes seen in the political sciences: power, identity, and representation. 

In Fall/Winter 2019, I created and administered the Scottish Voting Behaviour (SVB) survey (n=850) to gain quantitative data on voting history, attitudes, and preferences from Scottish voters on Scottish Independence. This survey was not used as a replacement but instead a supplement existing data from surveys like the SSA, SES, BES, and more. 

Data from the SVB informed the semi-structured interview questions for the 10 online focus groups and ~50 on-on-one phone interviews conducted in Spring of 2020. The focus groups were organised by gender, voting preference, age and other sociodemographic variables. Using qualitative methods like small groups, this project explores differing voting behaviour tendencies by generating data through collective meaning-making, assessing group processes, and normative understandings.

The primary focus of my research is developing a refreshed scholarly understanding regarding the relationship between men and women's voting behaviour and constitutional preferences. On a micro level, this research investigates the political gender gap between Scottish women and men and constitutional change like independence referenda. On a macro level, this research hopes to challenge the way we understand the relationship between sex, gender, gender identity, and voting behaviour by highlighting the significance of using a gendered lens in methodological approaches.

Supervisors

Professor James Mitchell FAcSS, FRSE
Dr Meryl Kenny

Education Qualifications

Emilia Belknap submitted her MA Thesis for The University of Manchester's Politics Programme in September of 2017 with an emphasis in International Relations. While sharpening her understanding of critically-orientated international relations, Emilia conducted qualitative research for her MA Thesis, "Escape to Exploitation: The Sex Trafficking of North Korean Female Migrants and China's Interstate Relations." While reading for her MA, Emilia developed a keen interest in gender and foreign policy and understanding how they blend together on the stage of the international political system. 

2016—MA Politics: International Relations, University of Manchester

  • Dissertation: "Escape to Exploitation: The Sex Trafficking of North Korean Female Migrants and China's Interstate Relations."

2013—BA English: Creative Non-Fiction Writing with Minors in Medieval History and French Language and Composition (Deans List 2013), University of Missouri: Columbia
 

Publications

Belknap, E., and Hawkins, S. (2020) In Their Names: Black Women's Political Power in the United States  Political Insight. SAGE Publications

Belknap, E., Shaw L., and Kenny, M. (2020) 'Two Steps Forward, One Step Back? Gender, Power and Leadership in Troubled Times.' Political Insight. SAGE Publications, 11(2) pp.4-7. 

Blogs
Belknap, E., Shaw L., and Kenny, M. (2020) '
Gender, Power, and Leadership in Troubled Times' The Political Studies Association (PSA) Blog. 18th June 2020. 

Belknap, E. (2020) 'The Virtual Methods Shift to 'Safety': Moving Qualitative Methods Online During COVID-19' The Postgraduate Gender Research Network (PGRNS) of Scotland Blog. 15th June 2020. 
 

Relevant Work Experience 

Assistant Instructor (June 2018 & June 2019)

    Sutton Trust Summer Programme at The University of Edinburgh

 Politics and Marketing Intern (2016)
     Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors (ALDC) 

Leadership Positions 
Committee Member of The Postgraduate Gender Research Network of Scotland (Autumn 2019 - Present)

Politics and International Relations Postgraduate Student Representative (2018-2019)
Chrystal MacMillan West Wing Representative (2018- March 2019)

Tutoring
- Introduction to Politics & International Relations (Autumn, 2018) 4 Groups
- British Politics: Beginning to an End? (Spring, 2019 & Spring, 2020) 4 Groups
- Understanding Gender in the Contemporary World: Key Concepts, Controversies and Challenges (Autumn, 2019) 4 Groups

Conferences, Presentations, Invitations

Paper Presenter in Lightning Round Session at Count Me In (Edinburgh, June 2020) - Postponed due to COVID19
   This one-day symposium explores themes related to the collection and use of equality, diversity and inclusion data. I shared empirical data from my Scottish Voting Behaviour Survey (n=850) that unexpectedly illuminated various understandings of "gender identity" of the Scottish electorate.

Paper Presenter and Panel Chair at PSA Annual International Conference 2020 (Edinburgh, April 2020) -Postponed due to COVID19
    Feminizing the Gender Gap: A Feminist Approach to Understanding Gender Gaps in Support of Independence
    Chair for Electoral Polls and Public Opinion Panel & Chair for Undergraduate Conference (3 April)

Invitation to Present at 'Ideology and Identity in post-war Scotland' (University of St. Andrews, August 2019) 
     Independent Women: Investigating the Gender Gap in Support for Independence Referenda

Paper Presenter at the European Conference on Politics and Gender (Amsterdam, July 2019)
     Independent Women: Investigating the Causal Mechanisms and Support for Constitutional Change 

Invitation to Present at the Centre of Constitutional Change (May 2019)
    Independent Women?: A Method Shift in the Investigation of Gender Gap in Scottish Independence Referendum

Paper Presenter and Panel Chair at PSA Annual International Conference 2019 (Nottingham, April 2019)
     Independent Women: Investigating the Gender Gap in Support for Independence Referenda

Paper Presenter at PRISM Conference (June 2018) 
     The Postgraduate Gender Research Network of Scotland
     Panel 1
     Putting the 'Gender' Back in the 'Gender Gap': The Scottish Case  

Paper Presenter at Research Through A Gendered Lens Conference (May 2018) 
     University of Stirling Arts & Humanities Postgraduate Network
     Gender, Law, and Politics Panel
     Putting the 'Gender' Back in the 'Gender Gap': The Scottish Case  

External Research Training
   
 Data Carpentry for Social Scientists February 2020 - Edinburgh, UK
     'Introduction to R', 'Data analysis and visualisation with R' (2 weeks)

     ECPR Methods Summer School 2018 - Budapest, Hungary
     Introduction to Experimental Methods Course (5 Days)
     Final Grade Project and Coursework: A- 

Research Projects 
Project Researcher - Vote100 Exhibition
   (May 2018-July 2018) The University of Edinburgh SSPS

Funding Attainment
Graduate School of Social and Political Science (SPS), University of Edinburgh
-£90 from PhD Research Support Fund for registration to the PSA Annual International Conference 2020, Edinburgh, UK (April 2020)
- £300 from Research Student-led Special Project Grant to support the Postgraduate Gender Research Network of Scotland's Conference (June 2020, Forthcoming)

  • I am currently a committee member for the Postgraduate Gender Research Network of Scotland and am co-organising a conference to unite Gender scholars across disciplines and Scottish universities. I have secured this amount for the committee which will allow the conference to be held, the presenters travel bursaries to be paid and more.
    This event is a University of Edinburgh SPS Graduate School Funded Event. 

- £290 from PhD Research Support Fund for travel to European Conference on Politics and Gender, Amsterdam, NL (July 2019)

- £210 from PhD Research Support Fund for travel to PSA Annual International Conference 2019, Nottingham, UK ( April 2019)
- £200 from PhD Research Support Fund for travel to ECPR Summer School for Experimental Methods, Budapest, Hungary (July 2018)

School of Social and Political Sciences: Politics and International Relations Department 
- £2000 to support the Politics and International Relations Postgraduate Student Writing Retreat 2019 (attained with Cat Wayland, University of Edinburgh) (March 2019)

Institute of Academic Development at the University of Edinburgh 
- £478 from the IAD Small Grant Action Fund to support the Politics and International Relations Postgraduate Student Writing Retreat 2019 (attained with Cat Wayland, University of Edinburgh) (March 2019)

European Consortium for Political Research
- €200 to support enrollment in ECPR Summer School for Experimental Methods, Budapest, Hungary (July 2018)

Political Studies Association
- £90 from the Political Studies Association Early Career Network to fund registration fees for Political Studies Association Conference 2019, Nottingham, UK (April 2019)

Postgraduate Gender Research Network of Scotland
- £30 from The Fran Trust awarded for travel to the Postgraduate Research Network of Scotland Conference (PGRNS) Prisms, Glasgow, UK (June 2018)