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NSF funds study on constitutional gender provisions

Oct. 30, 2009

KALAMAZOO--A Western Michigan University professor is the co-leader of a $312,000 National Science Collaborative Grant project to examine how gender provisions in national constitutions contribute to women's political and economic standing.

Dr. Priscilla Lambert, assistant professor of political science, is heading WMU's portion of the NSF research project, titled "Gender and Constitutions: A Comparative Analysis of the Effect of Gender Provisions." Dr. Druscilla Scribner, assistant professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, is heading that institution's portion of the project.

The two co-principal investigators and their research teams will combine a cross-national analysis of 100 countries with more-detailed country case studies on provisions, laws and enforcement. In addition, they will perform in-depth analyses of 15 countries in five world regions as well as close qualitative analyses of six key countries in southern Africa and South America.

"Our main goals are to produce a book on gender provisions in national constitutions and their effect on legislation and court decisions and ultimately on gender equality outcomes," Lambert says. "We also plan to make our constitutional coding and data on gender provisions public on the Web."

The National Science Collaborative Grant, made possible by funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, will provide $312,000 over three years to pay for research assistants; materials and software; research travel, including field work in southern Africa and Latin America; and some compensation for summer research.

Lambert is an associate professor of political science who also teaches in WMU's Soga Japan Center. She lived and studied in Japan for more than five years, and conducts research in such areas as Japanese employment and family policy, the policy-making process, and comparative social policy.

In the classroom, Lambert teaches on many topics, including Japanese politics, comparative politics, international relations, capitalism and democracy, comparative political economy, and women and politics. She earned a bachelor's degree in economics from Trinity University, a master's degree in economics from Keio University in Japan, and doctoral and master's degrees in political science from the University of California-San Diego.

The NSF receives some 40,000 proposals each year for research, education and training projects and funds only about 11,000 of them, notes Dr. Stephen Covell, director of the Soga Japan Center and WMU's Mary Meader Professor of Comparative Religion.

"The fact that Dr. Lambert and her colleague were awarded such a major award on their first application speaks very highly of Dr. Lambert's work and of the quality and level of work conducted here at WMU," Covell says.

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Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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