Doctoral student Elena Tapia won first place in the graduate poster competition for the American Society of Criminology's Division of Feminist Criminology.
Tapia, who is in her second year of the CCJS doctoral program, presented her master's thesis research, titled, "Doing Gender, Doing Time and Doing Better."
"[My research] attempts to discover if women participate in prison education more than men. The theoretical basis for this is related to “Doing Gender'' theory and the real-world circumstances regarding women and education," she said. "The goal of the research is to ascertain whether current educational differences between men and women, with women dominating the educational sphere outside of prison, is also occurring within the carceral setting. Investigation into this phenomena is essential due to education being one of the most vital catalysts for upward mobility. Therefore, it is crucial to understand who exactly is benefiting from these advantages."
Using the 2016 Survey of Prison Inmates, Tapia finds that "being female was associated with a higher probability for participation in prison education."
"Understanding these gaps through a ”doing gender” lens allows for gender to be an outcome rather than innate characteristic. Therefore, when looking at gender differences in education, it is about observing how gendered behavior impacts academics rather than viewing gender as already having a determined effect on educational outcomes," she said. "In this way, we can take seriously the problems of men while understanding that it is an issue related to the social construction of masculinity rather than institutional discrimination against boys. Ultimately, regardless of the gender differences in participation, both men and women in prison value education programs and the necessity for both groups to have access to these resources cannot be understated."
Tapia thanks several CCJS faculty members for their support in her research.
"I have to thank Robert Stewart for his mentorship, for putting me on to this opportunity and for always pushing me to go further. I would also like to thank Rod Brunson and Maria Velez for their guidance and advice throughout this program," she said. "I am incredibly grateful to receive this poster award. It is so rewarding and reassuring to have other academics validate and recognize your work."