My primary research interest is political violence, with a special interest in the participation of women in political violence and conflict resolution. My research asks questions about the processes of conflict and conflict resolution as well as the participants in these processes. I evaluate the roles of women as agents, rather than strictly as victims, of conflict, conflict resolution, and governance. More generally, I analyze how the preferences of actors influence whether and how they engage in conflict and conflict resolution as well as how gendered reintegration experiences influence whether and how veterans participate in politics and governance. This page is organized into three sections corresponding to the broad areas of my research interests: Women in Peace and Conflict, the Reintegration and Civic Engagement of Veterans (especially veteran women), and Counter-Terror/Counter-Insurgency & Intra-insurgency interactions.

Women in Conflict and Peace

Women of Burundi National Defense Force parading

It has been nearly twenty years since the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325, calling for greater involvement of women in peace processes and governance as a means of promoting peace, yet empirical evaluations of the effect of women’s involvement on peace outcomes are few and far between. To begin to fill this gap, my current and recent work evaluates both how the involvement of women impacts prospects for a negotiated resolution for conflict and how the backgrounds and experience of the individual women involved in these processes effect both their influence on the process and the eventual outcomes.



Here for the Right Reasons: The Selection of Women as Peace Delegates

with Elizabeth Brannon
2022, International Studies Review 24(1)

Since the passing of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security more than two decades ago, there has been a global push to bolster the inclusion of women in these processes (Ní Aoláin et al. 2011; Anderson 2015; Krause et al. 2018). When women are selected into peace delegations for the wrong reasons, they—like men—can hinder or stall progress (Paffenholz et al. 2016). Yet, very little work has analyzed which women are included in peace processes, how they are selected, why they are selected, and how their individual experiences influence both their behavior and the outcomes of those processes. We identify four selection criteria used to select participants in negotiations: (1) reliability as assessed through either connections to elites or ideological purity; (2) qualifications such as experience in the armed forces, rebel forces, civil society, or academia; (3) personal appeal or ability to elicit sympathy based on factors such as victimhood, attractiveness, youth, or demographics; and (4) selection by a third party whose strength and size has allowed it to negotiate representation in the process. It is likely that in many cases multiple motives and selection criteria are at play in the selection of individual women (or men). We consider how gender impacts the implementation of these criteria, drawing on a variety of peace processes, but especially the Havana Peace Talks between the Colombian Government and Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarios Colombianos – Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP). This framework sets the foundation for the development of three research agendas: the first relating to which women get a seat at the table, the second to how the individual backgrounds of the women selected into the peace process influence outcomes, and the third to issues of intersectionality and representation.

​Read it at International Studies Review

Replication data


You Can't have Women in Peace without Women in Conflict and Security

with Kyleanne Hunter
2020, Georgetown Security Studies Review 8(2)

Since the passage of UN Resolution 1325 there has been a call for an increase of women in post-conflict negotiations. Indeed, research shows that the presence of women in these negotiations improves prospects for lasting peace. However, there has yet to be a meaningful increase in women's participation in such negotiations. Similarly, despite an international focus on increasing women’s participation at all levels of government, women remain underrepresented in both elected and appointed positions. One area where women are increasingly present is as combatants - both in formal militaries and in rebel groups. In this article, we argue that the social gender norms related to women participating in combat are a key driver/reason of the lack of women’s meaningful participation in peace processes and government bodies. We introduce a model of cognitive-institutional reinforcement that shows how institutions designed to give former combatants access to public life undermine women’s credibility and result in lost opportunities. We use evidence from Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) programs and veterans’ services to show how this model explains the continued lack of women’s participation.
Read it at Georgetown Security Studies

Women and Conflict Studies

2020, In Oxford Bibliographies in Political Science. 2020. Ed. Sandy Maisel. New York: Oxford University Press.

Traditionally, women have been viewed as having little agency in wars and conflicts. Women were thought neither to cause the wars nor to fight them. When women were considered at all by scholars of war, they were conceived of primarily as victims. As women gained the franchise and ultimately began to be elected into political office in advanced democracies, some scholars began to consider the foreign policy implications of this—that is, do women’s attitudes toward war and defense policy differ from those of men and do these views produce different outcomes at the ballot box? Furthermore, do women behave differently with regard to security issues once in national office? Does their presence change the way their male colleagues vote on these issues? In recent decades, scholarship emerging first from critical feminist theory and later from positivist political scientists has begun to look more explicitly for women’s roles, experiences, and influences on and in conflict. This work has led to the recognition that, even when victimized in war, women have agency, and to the parallel conclusion that men’s agency is not as complete as scholars, practitioners, and the public have often assumed. This bibliography provides an overview of the development of women and conflict literature as well as several prominent themes and questions within the literature.

Read it at Oxford Bibliographies in Political Science

Legislative Gender Diversity and the Resolution of Civil Conflict

with Sarah Shair-Rosenfield and Reed Wood.
2019, Political Research Quarterly 72(1): 215-228

Policy makers and scholars have shown increased interest in gendered approaches to peacemaking, even as evidence of women’s impact on peace processes has remained unclear. In this paper, we explore the influence of gender diversity among decision-making elites on the outcome of ongoing civil conflicts. Specifically, we argue that increased female representation within the national legislature increases the likelihood that a conflict terminates in a negotiated settlement. However, the impact of legislative female representation on conflict termination is conditioned by the power of the legislature vis-à-vis the executive, suggesting that gender diversity exerts a greater impact in states with more authoritative legislatures. We evaluate our hypotheses using data on the manner of conflict termination and the proportion of women in national legislatures between 1945 and 2009. Our results show support for the central argument, suggesting that increasing female representation within legislative bodies increases the likelihood of war termination via negotiated settlement.

Read it at Political Research Quarterly

Soldier running by Matthew Hintz via Pexel

Military Veterans: Reintegration and Civic Engagement

My research evaluates how gender effects the reintegration experiences of veterans, their willingness to run for office, their prospects of winning elected office, and their behavior while in office.

See G.I. Jane Run: The Rise of Female Military Veteran Candidates for Congress

with Theresa Schroeder and Jeremy Teigen.
2023, American Politics Research 51(4)

Veteran women are better represented in Congress than non-veteran women, but the reasons for this are unclear. Veteran women may be better represented because they run at higher rates and in more winnable races or because their military service leaves them uniquely qualified to overcome gender and partisan stereotypes. Voters often perceive women as lacking leadership ability and ill-suited to handling national security. However, female veterans have experience that may help them overcome gendered beliefs about their abilities. Using election data from the 2012–2020 U.S. congressional elections, we test whether veteran women gain greater voter support compared to non-veteran candidates and whether veteran women running as Democrats outperform male veteran Democrats. We find only limited evidence that military service wins more votes for candidates of either gender. Among Democrats, prior military service levels the playing field between male and female candidates, but veteran women only outperform veteran men in 2018.

Read it at American Politics Research

Fighting for a Seat at the Table:

Women’s Military Service and Political Representation

with Kyleanne Hunter and Kate Hendricks Thomas.
2021, Journal of Veteran Studies 7(2): 19-33.

Military service has long been seen as a path to political leadership and elevation of status in public life (Stevenson, 2006; Stadelmann et al., 2015).  Public opinion polls steadily show that the American people trust military veterans to be principled leaders and model public citizens (Johnson, 2018). Combat veterans in particular are held in high regard as model and trustworthy citizens. For military women in the United States, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have ushered in a new era in combat arms participation. However, gendered perceptions about military participation and the identity of combat veterans have been slow to change, to the detriment of both women’s political and economic equality. Despite women’s participation in combat, they have been denied the elevated citizen status frequently enjoyed by their male peers with similar experience. This bodes poorly for lasting peace and security. Research increasingly indicates that the involvement of women in public life leads to more peaceful and stable outcomes, and enduring peace and stability (Hudson et al., 2012; Caprioli, 2003; Melander, 2005; Shair-Rosenfield &Wood, 2017; Best, Shair-Rosenfield, & Wood, 2019). While the U.S. has been a leader in the adoption of official UN Resolutions that call for women’s equality in all facets of governance, and the passage of the 2017 Women, Peace and Security Act, women are still heavily under-represented in all levels of government.

Read it at Journal of Veteran Studies

Military Service and Legislative Agendas: a study of legislators in four states

with Greg Vonnahme.
2021, Armed Forces & Society 47(2): 367-385.

Candidates often highlight military experience on the campaign trail. Do they also govern differently? This study examines whether and how military experience is associated with state lawmaking. We examine legislative productivity, success rates, and the substantive content of legislation with a large original dataset. The data include over 60,000 bills introduced in four state legislatures over a 10-year time span, coded for their substantive focus. It also includes information on characteristics of over 3,000 legislators. Our analysis of these data indicates that veterans do not differ in overall levels of productivity, but do have common legislative agendas. Veterans’ shared legislative agendas are not narrowly confined to defense or security issues, but vary depending on state context. This is, to our knowledge, the most extensive empirical analysis of the legislative behavior of veterans in a single study.

Read it at Armed Forces & Society

[Re]Negotiating Citizenship through Military Service

2019, In Invisible Veterans: What happens when military women become civilians again. Edited by Kate Hendricks Thomas and Kyleanne Hunter. ABC-CLIO

This chapter explores the link between military service and citizenship rights in republican societies and their application to women's military service.

Request a copy by email or find it in Invisible Veterans

Counter-terror, Counter-Insurgency, and Intra-Insurgency Interactions

My work in this area has evaluated the effects of factions within insurgencies influence the course of peace negotiations and when factions may present an opportunity for target states to manipulate negotiations to their advantage. I have also evaluated the ability of machine-coded data to aid researchers studying conflicts characterized by highly fragmented adversaries and the effects of terror proscription on proscribed groups.



Hard Choices, Soft Targets: Terror Proscription and Strategic Targeting Decisions of Foreign Terrorist Organizations

with Simanti Lahiri
2021, International Interactions 47(6): 955-985.

Proscription lists are common counter-terror tools, yet their impact on terrorist violence is unclear. We find that proscription can be effective at constraining the violence of some types of groups, especially those that are young, secular, and without institutional support. However, proscription also can backfire from a counter-terrorist prospective, especially when applied to groups that are well-established, religious, and/or sponsored by states. Our analysis evaluates 534 terrorist groups, including 66 that were ultimately proscribed under the United States’ Foreign Terror Organization list. Unsurprisingly, we find that terrorist groups that attract proscription are more violent and better equipped to tap into international terror networks. While younger groups and nationalist groups are more vulnerable to proscription, older religious groups and those with state sponsors seem to be more violent after proscription. Proscription can be an effective tool for reducing terrorist attacks and lethality, but it is most effective against younger terror groups and states should exercise caution in its use as it may not have the desired effects on all types of groups.
Read it at International Interactions.


Bargaining with Insurgencies in the Shadow of Infighting

with Navin Bapat
2018, Journal of Global Security Studies 3(1): 23-37.

Despite the long standing “no concessions” argument, scientific studies now suggest that governments can benefit from negotiating with militant insurgencies. However, despite government efforts, the leaders of insurgent movements often appear fanatical and unwilling to negotiate. This behavior presents a puzzle: If the leaders of insurgencies mobilize to create political change, and a government offers concessions, why do insurgent leaders refuse to negotiate? Using a game-theoretic model, we argue that insurgent leaders may rationally reject negotiation due to an internal commitment problem. Specifically, when leaders cannot credibly share the benefits of peace with their rivals, insurgent leaders may reject offers over fear of an internal conflict, which could leave the entire group vulnerable to government exploitation. However, the model demonstrates that insurgent leaders should negotiate if power in the insurgency is shifting in favor of their rivals, as it could help them maintain control of the movement. We illustrate these hypotheses using evidence from the Nigerian state's conflict with the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) organization and Boko Haram.

Read it at Journal of Global Security Studies.


An Analysis of the TABARI Coding System

with Christine Carpino and Mark Crescenzi
2013, Conflict Management and Peace Science 30(4): 335-348.

Textual Analysis by Augmented Replacement Instructions (TABARI) provides an automated method for coding large amounts of text. Using TABARI to code lead sentences of news stories, the KEDS/Penn State Event Data project has produced event data for several regions. The wide range of events and actors, TABARI's ability to filter duplicate events and the number of events coded allow users to analyze patterns in conflict and cooperation between state and nonstate actors over time. We evaluate whether coding full stories provides more detailed information on the actors referenced in the lead sentences. Additional actor information would allow researchers interested in the interactions between violent nonstate actors to test hypotheses regarding group cohesiveness and splintering, spoiling behavior, commitment problems between factions and many other issues critical to management of an insurgency. We downloaded Reuters news stories relevant to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and used TABARI to code the lead sentences. We then analyzed the full text of the coded stories to determine the level of actor detail available. Our findings highlight the dynamic relationship among nonstate and state actors during the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, and we find that, contrary to expectations, hand coding full news stories does not lead to significant improvements in the accuracy or depth of actor information compared with machine coding by TABARI using lead sentences. These findings should bolster the confidence of researchers using TABARI coded data, with the caveat that TABARI's ability to distinguish between actors is dependent upon the detail available in the actor dictionaries.

Read it at Conflict Management and Peace Science

Reciprocity in International Politics

with Mark Crescenzi and Bo Ram Kwon
2010 The International Studies Encyclopedia, 1st Edition, ed. Robert Denemark.

In this essay, we seek to present the key findings about reciprocity within the body of research that is representative of the Scientific Study of International Processes the study of reciprocity has generally occurred within two veins: formal/experimental and empirical research. the two veins have intertwined productively over the last half-century, and a significant proportion of this research draws from both approaches. For the purposes of exposition our essay mirrors the specialization often found in this research. 

Read it in The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of International Studies (previously The International Studies Encyclopedia)

Other Research

Panopticism and the use of "the Other" in To Kill a Mockingbird.

2009, The Mississippi Quarterly, 62(3/4)

The search for identity and the obstacles to it in Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird are examined through the framework of the Panopticon and the Other that Michel Foucault sets forth in Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. Through Boo, Scout and Jem are able to see flaws in society that run deeper than the simple problems they face as children, social ills that allow a community to witness passively and thus allow the abuse that Boo faced and that Mayella still faces, that allow a society to, in effect, kill Tom Robinson or any other innocent man to protect their own prejudices.

Read it at The Mississippi Quarterly