When Women’s Voices are Truly Heard: Chris Karpowitz and “The Silent Sex”

“Culture does not make people. People make culture. If it is true that the full humanity of women is not our culture, then we can and must make it our culture,” wrote Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in her book We Should All Be Feminists. BYU Political Science professor Dr. Chris Karpowitz has researched what that “full humanity” looks like currently, in the context of public meetings and politics. In the 2014 book The Silent Sex: Gender, Deliberation, & Institutions, authored by him and Princeton University professor Dr. Tali Mendelberg, they discuss the reasoning behind, methods, results, and implications of a study they conducted on the subject of gender equality in politics. They found, among other things, that only in certain situations are women’s voices truly heard.

Gender Equality – The Study

silent sex
Photo courtesy of Goodreads

That study, The Deliberative Justice Experiment, included both male and female participants who were divided into groups and tasked with discussing and making decisions regarding the redistribution of money. They were told that they would be paid based on their group’s decision; the decision had to be by majority or unanimous, depending on which group they were placed in.

This experiment allowed Doctors Mendelberg and Karpowitz to ask important questions, such as:

  • How much do women and men speak?
  • Do men use interruptions to establish their status in the group?
  • Do women use them to create a warmer tone of interaction in the group?
  • Do women express their preferences during discussion?
  • How does what happens in the discussion affect the decision the groups ultimately makes?

The researchers found that those in unanimous decision groups were more inclusive and more vocal in expressing their preferences, and discussed the issue longer. If men were in the numerical minority in such a group, though, they tended to increase their participation and interrupt more. According to Karpowitz, this meant that “unanimous rule is good for women when [they] are in the [numerical] minority…but it is bad for women when they are the majority, …as men—the numerical minority—increase their participation.”

Majority rule groups also demonstrated behaviors that had both benefits and drawbacks for women. “Majority rule signals that the more numerous groups…are entitled to exercise power,” said the authors. When women are in the majority, they participate more and “can benefit from this signal to exercise power.” So, in order to achieve their goals, women must have a large majority. The opposite is true for men: they can get away with having a small majority. Furthermore, when women are in the majority, the men in the group are more resistant to their stances. “Unanimous rule helps women when they are few, while majority rule helps women when they are many.”

Implications for Change

The authors posited that simply holding meetings and increasing the proportion of female municipal leaders were ineffective ways to boost female involvement. Indeed, the question of whether or not more females should get involved in politics because of their gender has tended to be a topic about which people have strong opinions. Margaret Dayton, a BYU alumni who is the longest-serving woman in the Utah state legislature, said in last year’s issue of Connections: “Your gender does not qualify you to serve. Your principles, your willingness to work, your experience that brings you there, those are the kinds of things that qualify people, not gender.” And Karpowitz conducted a study with fellow political science professor Jessica Preece that found that “quotas, which face practical and ideological barriers in the United States, are not the…way to increase women’s representation.”

Rather, Karpowitz and Mendelberg suggest that increasing the number of women in meetings and municipalities where they might be underrepresented or in the minority, and implementing unanimous rule—or measures that lead to total inclusion—might rectify the problem of “the silent sex.” Although unanimity is not without its problems, the process aids women when they are in the minority.

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The authors cite political theorist Alexis de Tocqueville‘s views on class differences: “The humblest individual who is called upon to co-operate in the government of society acquires a certain degree of self-respect; and as he possesses authority, he can command the services of minds much more enlightened than his own.” The same can be said for gender equality. Only by making a concerted effort can we be more inclusive of women in politics and other public forums.

 

Should Americans Care About Foreign Aid?

Anne Frank once said: “No one has ever become poor by giving.” Americans today seem to believe the opposite, viewing foreign aid programs with distrust and resentment. A 2016 Pew poll showed that just 37% of Americans think the U.S. should help other countries.  Political Science professor Darren Hawkins sought to examine these attitudes in a recent Washington Post article detailing an experiment in which he and colleagues tested the elasticity of Americans’ opinions regarding foreign aid. 

What is Foreign Aid and why is it Important?

According to the U.S. government’s foreign assistance website, there are nine categories of foreign aid:

  • Peace & Security
  • Democracy, human rights, & governance
  • Health
  • Education & social services
  • Economy
  • Environment
  • Humanitarian assistance
  • Program management
  • Combination of categories

The Borgen Project, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that fights extreme poverty by conducting a national campaign among politicians to make poverty a focus of U.S. foreign policy, said that foreign aid is essential because it can assist in educating people, build infrastructure so that the inhabitants of the recipient nation can “be mobile and have access to basic necessities such as electricity and running water,” cultivate a diplomatic relationship between the two countries, and help nations combat terrorism, among other things.

pexels-photo-520222 Americans and Foreign Aid

“Americans are notoriously uninformed on how much their government actually spends on aid,” according to Hawkins. A 2015 Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that the majority of Americans think the U.S. spends around 26% of the federal budget on foreign aid; in actuality, according to the KFF, the budget is 1% or less.

Why does this misperception exist among Americans? Hawkins lists the reasons people distrust foreign aid as generally falling within these categories:

  • Is expensive
  • Does not work
  • Breeds dependency and conflict
  • Interferes with the free market
  • Loses money to corruption

In an experiment conducted by Hawkins and the co-authors of the Washington Post article, they tested the effects of certain arguments on Americans’ perceptions of foreign aid, and found that those arguments had an effect on those American’s views on foreign aid. These possible counterarguments, along with five facts in support of each counterargument, were provided to the people interviewed in the experiment:

  • Inexpensiveness
  • Effectiveness
  • Chance for a potential positive impact
  • Service to U.S. interests
  • Need

The chart below illustrates the extent to which those interviewees who felt that the U.S. spent too much on foreign aid were influenced by various counterarguments, as opposed to a control group to which no argument was given.

 

darren hawkins chart
Credit: The Washington Post

The results show that the right argument for or against foreign aid can either increase or decrease support for the program. More importantly, it shows that most Americans can change their attitudes about foreign aid when given the correct information.

 

poverty What’s Next?

It’s important to consider the possible ramifications of Hawkin’s study and Americans’ perceptions of foreign aid as President Trump has recently made significant funding cuts to U.S. foreign aid to other countries in his recently released budget. This cut was instituted to pave the way for “a new foundation that places America first by returning more American dollars home and ensuring foreign aid supports American interests and values.” According to Hawkins, et. al. the president’s proposed budget cuts the funding to the State Department, in charge of USAID, by almost 30%.

For instance, Newsweek reports that African Development Bank president, Akinwumi Adesina, said that if U.S. aid to Africa is cut, the continent could become “a recruiting field for terrorists.” In Central Asia, cuts to foreign aid could also have a potentially large impact. The elimination of two programs—Assistance for Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia (AEECA), and the Development Assistance—could make the region to be susceptible to Communist China’s influence, according to Alyssa Ayres, a Forbes contributor. After analyzing the FY18 Control Levels and Foreign Policy, she concluded that “…these proposed changes could paradoxically undermine the U.S. ability to shape objectives in the region. Moreover, at a time of massive Chinese assistance flooding the region, savings achieved through scrounging comparatively small levels of assistance will leave Washington with a shrunken profile and a shallower footprint.”

Former President George W. Bush’s USAID Administrator, Andrew Natsios spoke to Trump’s cuts: “[Cutting the budget] will end the technical expertise of USAID, and in my view, it will be an unmitigated disaster for the longer term…I predict we will pay the price. We will pay the price for the poorly thought out and ill-considered organization changes that we’re making, and cuts in spending as well.”

poverty 2 Changing Opinions

Americans are refreshingly rational about adjusting their opinions,” said Hawkins. “….On this particular issue…there seems [to be]a clear prescription: If you want to get Americans to support government spending on foreign aid, tell them how little the government currently spends.” After examining the facts, understanding the arguments for and against aid, and studying the issue, Americans can become more informed about aid and the potential damage that can come from a budget reduction.

Should we support foreign aid?

Feature image courtesy of Blue Diamond Gallery.

Foster Care Privatization can Lead to Abuse, Fulton Winner Finds

In the United States in 2015, 427,910 children were in foster care, an institution meant to care for children whose parents are temporarily or permanently unable to do so. A 2013 Child Welfare Outcomes Report found that more than 98% of those children were, in fact, well-treated. However, some sources suggest that the number is much higher. In 2015, a judge in Texas oversaw a case regarding abuse in foster care. In his conclusion he wrote: ” Texas’s [foster care] children have been shuttled throughout a system where rape, abuse, psychotropic medication, and instability are the norm.” As a method of reform, many have turned to privatization of foster care–having private companies find foster homes for children. However, is this truly a solution? Some are claiming that privatization only increases children’s risk of abuse.

sad girlThrough her studies, Fulton Conference Political Science winner Mandi Eatough found by privatizing foster care, these children do have an increased risk of neglect or abuse. She said: “It’s much easier to think about policy and government work in terms of whether it’s “good government” or “good for the economy.” However, I believe it’s far more important to consider these policies based on the impact they have on our lives. I hope that legislators and foster care workers alike will consider the implications of the foster care system on the children in it. ” 

Foster Care

According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway: “As a reform strategy, many state and local public child welfare agencies have contracted with private agencies [for] some of their services. Some child welfare systems have implemented performance contracting, in which contracted agencies are paid based on their achievements of agreed-to outcomes.”

“There are two main theories about foster care privatization policies,” explains Mandi. “The first is that privatization is preferable because of an increase in efficiency and a decrease in cost of foster care placements. The second claims that this increase in time and economic efficiency creates pressure on social workers to place children faster, leading to a decrease in the quality of the placement.”

What she found through her study corroborated this. She discovered that:

  • Changes in foster care policy often have an immediate effect on the children in the foster care system.
  • Children placed by privatized agencies are more likely to have case goals that are more efficient and less costly.
  • Children in privatized foster care systems are at a greater risk of experiencing abuse or neglect than their non-privatized counterparts.

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What’s Next?

Mandi has plans to publish the paper and reexamine her data and in order to better understand foster care. Of her experience with the Fulton Conference, she said: “The Fulton Conference was an amazing opportunity to both share my own work and see the work of other students in the college. The part of the Fulton Conference that stood out to me the most was the fact that every student at the conference had been given the opportunity to work on mentored research with a faculty member. Being able to work so closely with faculty in my department on research I care about has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my undergraduate education.”

New FHSS Faculty: Dr. Chad Nelson

Dr. Chad Nelson, a new Political Science faculty member, is an expert on international affairs, particularly political revolutions and the interaction between domestic instability and international politics. “I suppose what got me hooked was a curiosity about different people and places,” he said. This curiosity prompted him to travel, which, as he puts it, “led me to read more and more about the history of different places, and somehow, I got particularly interested in war and revolution.”

Dr. Nelson enjoyed his four years studying philosophy here at BYU as an undergraduate, and he eventually received his PhD from the University of California at Los Angeles. “I’m thrilled to be back among a great set of colleagues,” he said, “and I love the view from my window. We are lucky to live in such a beautiful area!”

Much of Dr. Nelson’s work is focused on the international effects of revolutions. For instance, leaders of nations often see a revolution elsewhere and fear that it could spread to their own state—this can have a major impact on a nation’s foreign policy. Dr. Nelson also studies the question of how states respond to the rise of potential rivals.

Of his teaching, he says: “It is a pleasure to teach such smart and dedicated students. They don’t seem to complain about their grades as much as the students at UCLA!” When he’s not teaching, he is an outdoorsman who enjoys running. His wife currently works as a physicians’ assistant in an emergency room in Long Beach, California, and they have four children—three boys and a girl.

Welcome Dr. Nelson!

Sarah Curry, FHSS Student Extra-ordinaire

It has been said that “the quality of a university is measured more by the kind of student it turns out than the kind it takes in.” If this is true, then BYU is a very fine university, based at least on political science major Sarah Curry . fhsspictureThe senior has traveled both the world and the U.S. and is involved in many things on-campus.

Recently, we had the opportunity to talk with her about her school experience:

Getting to Know Sarah Curry

Q: What’s your major? Why did you choose it? Was there a particular experience that lead you to it?

A: I am studying political science with an emphasis in political strategy, and minoring in global studies and nonprofit management. I grew up in the Washington DC area, which exposed me to politics at a young age. When I came to BYU, I knew I wanted to learn how to serve my community. Political science has taught me valuable quantitative and writing skills, as well as a practical understanding of institutions that I will need to serve effectively. Additionally, the faculty and students in political science are fascinating! Their perspectives and experiences are far-reaching. Everyone is supportive and wants to pull you into their network. I really have found my tribe.

Q: What are you involved in (i.e. extracurricular activities)?

A: I am the special events director for BYU Political Affairs Society. I am the co-founder and president of BYUPAS Women in Politics. I am also a member of both Nonprofit Management Student Association and Students for International Development. I am a Undergraduate Fellow at the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy. I was a TA for POLI 201 for three semesters and have been a RA since January. This semester, I am involved with the KBYU-Utah Colleges Exit Poll, and encourage everyone reading this to volunteer for it as well.

Q: Any tips for getting involved?

A: Be bold! Go to activities hosted by clubs and student associations. Every major has at least one. Talk to people in class. Turn group projects into a way to make friends. Meet and work with your professors and TAs. I have been connected to opportunities that I would not have found otherwise through classmates and faculty. Show commitment to learning as much as you can while you’re at BYU. Our college can be improved by your ideas and insights — you just have to share them!

Q: What do you like to do outside of school?

A: Tap dance, SCUBA dive, cook international food, go to book club and Bombay House with my ladies, watch Parks and Rec and The Office with my husband. I also love to road trip and explore new places.

Q: Random fact or story about yourself?

A: My order at Sodalicious is a 24oz. I Love Lucy extra dirty.

 

Alumni Spotlight: Dee Allsop, Powerhouse Connector

deeDee Allsop is a powerhouse of a man, having been a strategist who worked at the highest level of American politics during the Ronald Reagan administration, and as a former president of the BYU Alumni Association. He graduated in political science, obtained both a masters and a doctorate from The Ohio State University, and achieved many great things in that arena, but then turned his professional attention to the science of  helping companies understand people, clients, and the decisions they make, at Heart+Mind Strategies. Through all of his endeavors is woven the power of connection, the desire to help politicians, companies, and people connect with each other.

As president of the Alumni Association, he said: “[The spirit of the Y] needs to be cultivated in the communities where people live—not just in their cities, but in their professional, global, and social communities as well.” As CEO of Wirthlin Worldwide from 2002 to 2004,  and then as president of Harris Interactions Groups, a company dedicated to administering surveys that measure public opinion in the U.S.  about the knowledge, opinions, behaviors and motivations of the general public on subjects such as politics, the economy, healthcare, foreign affairs, science and technology, sports and entertainment, and lifestyles. While employed at these companies, (2004-10) he also worked as the president of the BYU Board of Alumni. In addition, he was the BYU Alumni Association president from 2009-14. Currently, he serves on the Family, Home, and Social Sciences National Advisory Council. His passion for and ability to help businesses identify and leverage their connections has won him multiple awards, including the Advertising Research Foundation David Ogilvy Award for Beltway Campaign in 2008, the Advertising Research Foundation’s David Ogilvy Award for “The New Steel” in 2000, and the American Association of Political Consultants “Pollster of the Year” in 2000.      

He’s an example to all of the power of initiative and education. Of BYU, Allsop says, “BYU did many wonderful things in my life, and I have much gratitude to the university and the people there.” This is made evident through his far-reaching service to the university.

If you are an alumni of BYU’s School of Family Life, or any of the nine other departments in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences, we’d like to hear your story! Please share with us your accomplishments, your stories of service and inspiration. Share them at Rise.byu.edu. And don’t forget to join us on October 13th at 11 am in SWKT 250 to listen to Alumni Achievement Award Honoree Bridgitte Madrian speak on household financial decision making.

Where Will You Go With Your Major?

Provo Student Project: How Voting Benefits You and #IVoteBecause

Several students huddled together in one of BYU’s political science classes.  Each had a passion for politics. Each wanted others to feel the power and excitement that comes from being politically involved. Collyn Mosquito gathered friends and founded The Provo Student Project.

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Tyler Kivley, the public relations chair of The Provo Student Project, says he was invited by a friend to join the project, but his motivations to join ran deeper than that: “I joined because I want other students to understand the role they have and the actual power they have to influence what goes on in their communities, state, and nation. I am politically active because I choose to be a part of the force of progress and development. I vote because it is a right and duty that I have. I sincerely believe it makes a difference.”

The Provo Student Project recognizes that being politically involved is a civic duty. The right to vote has been protected by the voice, action, and blood of thousands throughout history.  It is working to spread the word about the importance of voting through several campaigns for students. They are:

#IVoteBecause

A social media campaign. #IVoteBecause encourages people to post why they voted, or why they will vote.  So take that selfie and hashtag it!

Video

The Provo Student Project created a video with students on campus about voting. Check out their Facebook page soon for the video. Watch for another video coming out this weekend!

Get Out the Vote Canvassing

Gather at Joaquin Park at 10 a.m. on October 15 to plaster the neighborhood with flyers and talk to passersby about voting. It might be a good idea to bring a car, as you will divide and conquer. Expect to be out for a couple of hours (depending on how fast you can canvas, of course).

Chalking Up the Vote

Chalk up the sidewalks to remind people to get out and vote. Meet at Joaquin Park at 10 a.m.

 

How Does Voting Benefit You?

All this being said, it is important to talk about reasons for voting beyond civic duty, although that is important. In his recent  BYU devotional address, Elder Dallin H. Oakes recently encouraged all to vote:  “As the First Presidency always reminds us, we have the responsibility to become informed about the issues and candidates and to independently exercise our right to vote. Voters, remember, this applies to candidates for the many important local and state offices, as well as the contested presidential election.” Beyond that, voting encourages us to think seriously about the issues that affect us, which all issues do in some way ultimately, and perhaps how we can affect change if we are dissatisfied with their effect on us.

Check out their Facebook page for more information or email them at contactus@provostudentproject.com.

The Golden Rule for Better Government: Treat Women Better

Many Americans believe that in their lifetime they will live to see a female commander-in-chief. It’s possible that one will be elected in the 2016 presidential elections. The fact remains, however, that most populations around the world have not witnessed a powerful female head of state. Most citizens arguably want the same thing: a government that works for them. New research from the political science department shows that gender roles significantly matter. It also shows how gender-based treatment makes a difference.

treat women well

 

An August 2015 study published in the American Political Science Review by Donna Lee Bowen and Perpetua Lynne Nielsen showed a distinct correlation between poor government and poor treatment of women. The professors explored the “micro-level processes that link clan predominance with dysfunctional syndromes of state behavior. Clans typically…are characterized by extreme subordination of women effected through marriage practices.”  In addition, the researchers noted that “particular types of marriage practices give rise to particular types of political orders and may be fiercely guarded for just this reason.”

Professors Bowen and Nielsen’s research demonstrates that the stability of governments is tied to the autonomy of women in marital unions. Their study, titled Clan Governance and State Stability: The Relationship Between Female Subordination and Political Order, concludes that the existence of powerful clans tend to undermine the possibility of a functional, capable state.

“Clan governance is a useful predictor of indicators of state stability and security, and we probe the value added by its inclusion with other conventional explanatory variables often linked to state stability and security,” according to the researchers’ abstract report.

The study also found that one can predict the effectiveness of government based on the extent of oppression women experienced in marriage. “These findings suggest it may be difficult to construct a more egalitarian—or more secure—society where households are profoundly inegalitarian between the sexes,” state the authors.  “We [can] elicit much through the lens of gender, not just about women as such, but about attitudes towards civic tolerance and governance more broadly”

What does this suggest, then, for governments looking to improve their strength and cohesion? More than the dissolution of the power of agnatic, or male-only, lineages, or the promotion of literacy and education, the provision of free health care, an emphasis on industrial production or on a more equitable distribution of wealth, the improvement of the situation of women as a whole in marriage relationships is what is most likely to improve governmental quality.

The study has received worldwide attention on Twitter. You can read more about their results in the American Political Science Review.

Two Students Nominated for Truman Scholarship

Congratulations to Soren Schmidt and Rachel Stone, who have been selected as 2016 Truman Scholarship Finalists! BYU’s FHSS College and Department of Political Science could not be more proud of these two dedicated, ambitious students.

Truman Scholars are selected from among candidates who show:

  1. an extensive record of campus and community service;
  2. a commitment to a career in government or the nonprofit and advocacy sectors;
  3. good communication skills and a high probability of becoming a “change agent”; and
  4. a strong academic record with likely acceptance to the graduate school of the candidate’s choice.

Candidates strive to have a positive impact on the world in which they live.They are supported by the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, which was established in 1975 as a living memorial to our thirty-third president, Harry S. Truman.

Since its inception, the Foundation has funded almost 3,000 Truman Scholars who are making a difference around the country and the world. It supports the graduate education and professional development of outstanding young people committed to public service leadership. Approximately 600 applications are received every year, and from those, 200 students are chosen as finalists. In late March and early April, Soren and Rachel will be interviewed by the Foundation’s Regional Review Panels to determine whether or not they will be included in the final list of 55-65 scholars that are chosen.

We wish Soren and Rachel the best of luck!

The 2016 Class of Truman Scholars will be announced by 9:00 pm EST on April 22.