Clockwise from top left: Allura Casanova, Jessica Kiebler, Ceciel Zhong, and Leanna Papp

The Women’s and Gender Studies Department has announced the winners of its first grant competition to fund student research on sexual harassment and gender-based violence.

Joint PhD students Allura Casanova, Jessica Kiebler, and Leanna Papp and undergraduate Women’s and Gender Studies major Ceciel Zhong wrote exciting proposals for research projects that they will complete with the support and sponsorship of individual WGS faculty members.

“Supporting student research is a core part of our department’s educational mission,” said Ruby Tapia, Chair of the Women’s and Gender Studies Department.  “These grants will make it possible for our students to move forward with these urgent and timely research projects.”

Adapting to the challenges presented by social distancing requirements, the awardees plan to continue their research over the summer: they’ll study manuscripts, design surveys, attend virtual conferences, and conduct other project-related work remotely.  The projects will be completed by April 30, 2021.

Allura Casanova, PhD Student, Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies

Faculty Sponsor: Lilia Cortina

This project seeks to understand the ways in which men of color conceptualize racialized sexual harassment and describe their experiences of it.  The project argues that the hyper-sexualization of men of color combined with masculinity expectations will be present in their experiences of sexual, racial, and racialized sexual harassment.

Jessica Kiebler, PhD Student, Women’s and Gender Studies and Psychology

Faculty Sponsor: Abby Stewart

We know that some women are blamed for their own experiences of sexual violence, as if it is their fault, and that includes poor women. This research will analyze how people's perceptions of women's experiences of sexual assault are affected when they are described as being a part of either the "deserving" (stereotyped as hardworking and honorable) or "undeserving" (stereotyped as "lazy, licentious, prone to violence") poor.  This summer, the researchers will be working on constructing an online survey including vignette scenarios aimed at assessing people's perceptions of these groups of women. Before conducting the full study with an online sample of participants, the researchers plan to test the vignette manipulations with a pilot sample this coming fall. 

Leanna Papp, PhD Candidate, Women’s and Gender Studies and Psychology

Faculty Sponsor: Sara McClelland

Leanna Papp's dissertation research furthers theorization around "sexualized aggression," a term used to encompass varied yet mundane sexual and bodily boundary violations. Leanna's study investigates students' attitudes toward and experiences of these violations. This research seeks to address issues related to campus sexual misconduct and climate, and the normalization of sexual assault more broadly. The funding from the Women's Studies Sexual Harassment and Gender-Based Violence Award will be used to compensate survey respondents for their time. Over the summer, Leanna is working on manuscripts that (1) establish "sexualized aggression" as a distinct concept and (2) examine contributors to the normalization of such aggression. 


Ceciel Zhong, Women’s and Gender Studies major

Faculty Sponsor: Allison Alexy

The Restorative Justice (RJ) framework has become more widely adopted by colleges and universities to focus on the harm caused by gender-based violence through addressing individual and community needs, which is promising but also often misunderstood. This project aims to establish an understanding of college students’ knowledge and impressions of the efficiency and efficacy of existing RJ measurements that are incorporated to address gender-based violence, so as to make recommendations on the publicity of certain programs and/or resolutions.  This summer, Ceciel will be attending remote conferences and studying the theory and practice of restorative justice that has been implemented not only in the criminal justice system, but also in colleges and universities to address harm in different areas, including gender-based violence.