Monthly Archives: April 2015

WomenStats’ most improved countries award goes to…

Papua New Guinea wedding: Photo by Timothy Allen, BBC Photographer.

Papua New Guinea wedding: Photo by Timothy Allen, BBC Photographer.

The idea for the WomanStats Awards was first created at the 2014 Summer Co-PI meeting in an effort to help our data reach a larger audience. We wanted to inform, educate, and acknowledge our readers about countries and individuals who made strides, or a lack thereof, in the field of women’s rights throughout the year. All nominations and categories were provided by our coders over a period of 6 months. All final decisions were made by a panel of our co-principal investigators. These awards will be publicized across all forms of WomanStats social media, and also submitted to several online news media platforms for potential publication.

Click WomanStats Annual Report 2014 to for more interesting international facts.


Morocco: The Moroccan Parliament repealed a controversial amendment of Article 475 of the Penal Code, which allowed a rapist to escape prosecution if he married his victim.

Philippines: In defiance of the Catholic Church, the Supreme Court in the Philippines upheld a law that requires free contraception to be available at government health centers. This law also mandates after-abortion care for women and reproductive health education in government schools.

Papua New Guinea: In July 2014, Papua New Guinea outlawed polygamy. Under an amendment to the Civil Registration Act, all marriage must now be registered, including customary marriages. Any person who practices a polygamous relationship is guilty of an offence.

Bizarre fact:

India: An 18 year old woman marries a stray dog at the behest of her parents in an effort to ward off an evil spirit. Village elders believed that the woman possessed bad luck and this was the only solution available. According to the custom, the evil spirit will be passed to the dog, leaving the woman free to marry later on life without divorcing the dog.

Qualtrics: using research skills outside of the classroom


Taylor Rawson is a BYU student applying her research skills at Qualtrics. Photo used with permission.


Taylor Rawson is an international relations student at BYU applying her research skills to her job at Qualtrics.

 Q: Why did you decided to go into international relations?

Taylor: I liked that it was interdisciplinary. I like political science – I really wanted to do something with political science but I didn’t only want to take political science classes. I wanted to take stuff like history and geography and foreign language [Spanish]. I did a study abroad in Spain and loved it.

Q: What brought you to Qualtrics?

Taylor: I have worked with Professor Darren Hawkins for two years as a reserach assistant and we’ve done a lot of “everything,” like experiments and qualitative work but I did a lot of data and [data] modeling … He recommended Qualtrics … and so right now I work with students and the professors from all over, not just here on campus, and their research using Qualtrics. Professor Hawkins and I had ran surveys on Qualtrics before but there’s way more that you have to learn …. so I did a lot of training when I started. It’s just such a cool software. You can put custom programming into Qualtrics and make it however you want! It’s a neat platform.

Q: Do the classes you’ve taken at BYU helped you with that job or is it separate from what you’re doing now?

Taylor: It’s a little bit of both. A lot of classes require research, and you have to take a lot of research classes as part of the major, but I also have a lot of research experience outside of school, like being able to think analytically and problem solve. People will call in [to Qualtrics] and say they’re having an issue with this or that and how do I build this, and you have to be able to come up with it.

Q: So which classes have you taken that have helped you in your job now?

Taylor: Anything that forces you to think analytically. So I’ve taken the research skills classes, like a writing methods class.

Q: With all the skills that you’ve developed, what do you want to do after graduation?

Taylor: I really want to be a professor. I love research and you can come up with a problem that you think is interesting, and you figure out how to get an answer, and it’s a cool process. I also like teaching, and I love working with people. I want to get a Ph.D. one day. But good research takes years and years. It’s just neat to solve problems and find answers!

Q: So why would you recommend all this to other students?

Taylor: For two years now I’ve worked on the front end of research– coming up with the questions and trying to figure out what methods could best help us find the answers we were looking for.  At Qualtrics, I work on the other side of that research; I help other academics to set up their research and help them understand how Qualtrics can help them answer the questions they’re asking.  I’ve enjoyed it because I have been on that front side, and I think Qualtrics is a survey platform that can be used for almost anything.

BYU Model European Union team shines at national competition

BYU students explore the city at the Model European Union competition

BYU students explore the city at the Model European Union competition. Photo used with permission of Rebecca Wiseman.

BYU students participate in the MEU competition

BYU students participate in the MEU competition. Photo used with permission of Rebecca Wiseman.

2013 BYU Model EU Team: (front row L to R) Jenna Jackson, Raeni Sroufe, Savannah Eccles, Rebecca Wiseman; (back row L to R) Corey Cherrington, JJ Bebel, Rachel Hludsinski, Jon Collier

2013 BYU Model EU Team: (front row L to R) Jenna Jackson, Raeni Sroufe, Savannah Eccles, Rebecca Wiseman; (back row L to R) Corey Cherrington, JJ Bebel, Rachel Hludsinski, Jon Collier. Photo used with permission of Rebecca Wiseman.

This post brought to you by guest writer: Rebecca Wiseman

Brigham Young University’s Model European Union (MEU) team earned three awards at the 11th Annual MEU conference held at the University of Washington’s European Union Center of Excellence, Feb. 20-21, 2015. The conference provided a setting for approximately 60 undergraduate students participating from 15 universities in the U.S. and Canada to understand the workings of the European Union. BYU’s Rachel Hludzinski was recognized as an Outstanding Head of Government, and Jenna Jackson received an honorable mention award as Head of Government as well as an outstanding position paper award.

“I enjoyed the MEU competition because of the opportunity I had to discuss a broad array of European policy areas. Hludzinski stated. “I also value the long-term dedication the MEU class demands from students in order to prepare for the competition.”

MEU simulates a European Council Summit where students play the roles of EU member state delegations, the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the European Parliament under the direction of the rotating Council Presidency, a position in the EU held presently by Latvia. This year’s competition featured two concurrent summit negotiation sessions, one focusing on youth unemployment, discussed by heads of government, and the other addressing the common foreign and security policy within the EU, led by the Ministers of the Interior.

More than a simulation, MEU also prepares students with writing skills, public speaking and negotiation strategies. “I learned that in order to reach agreements with people and you sometimes need to give up things to gain ground collectively,” Collier said. Several students also mentioned the importance of confidence in knowledge of their country’s position on a given issue.

“Early on in my preparations, I would second-guess myself. In preparation for the MEU competition I began to focus on my strengths and that led me to become more confident in what I was talking about with others at the conference,” Bebel said.

For the second consecutive year, BYU represented one of the Council Presidencies, meaning two BYU students were chosen to chair the banking union session. This selection was an honor to BYU, as the school with the most winning delegates from the previous year is chosen to serve as a presidency team the following year. This year’s presidency included Raeni Sroufe and Savannah Eccles, both political science majors.

The five-student delegation from BYU was sponsored by the Center for the Study of Europe (CSE) and the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies. The team was directed by Wade Jacoby, professor of political science and faculty director of CSE, and co-advisors Cory Leonard and Rebecca Wiseman. Student representatives included Rachel Hludzinski, Jenna Jackson, Jon Collier, JJ Bebel and Corey Cherrington.

“I’ve rarely heard such high praise for our overall delegation,” Jacoby said. “Our students should feel great about their preparation and performance.”


Rebecca Wiseman, the 2015 coach, advisor and judge for the BYU Model European Union Team, explains why students feel the opportunity to compete in the even is so valuable.

Q: What was your role in the MEU trip?

RW: I acted as the student advisor on the trip to Seattle. I competed in the competition first as a student in 2013 representing Belgium. Then, I was asked to come back in 2014 and act as presidency (or moderator) along with Romy Franks in 2014, finally, after graduating from the IR program, I was invited back to act as coach/advisor for the team and act as a judge for all students in the most recent 2015 competition. Our students start to prepare for the competition in December and as advisor I help choose, train and coach the students to be prepared to compete in the February competition. Following the collegiate competition, our students put on a Standalone MEU conference for over 100 high school students and I am the director of this event.

Q: Why do you think going to Model European Union (MEU) is a valuable experience for BYU students?

RW: MEU provides students the opportunity to improve a wide array of skills such as negotiation, diplomacy, strategic thinking, public speaking and research. The MEU committees are smaller than MUN committees and require students to really think about what neighboring countries think about particular policies. Understanding the interconnectedness of the EU and how it relates to the country you are representing really pushes students to understand the perspective of country leaders on a deeper level and allows economic and politic concepts to come together in an applicable, real-world situation. MEU is one of the best simulations of diplomacy and policy making I’ve been a part of and really shows students the challenges and triumphs of working with 28 other member states in coming to an agreement.

Q: What aspects about the experience might help students with their future careers?

RW: Networking alone is a great aspect of MEU. At the competition you have the opportunity to connect with several top European scholars across the nation. You will also have the lasting friendships with students both from your school and other visiting schools and have the opportunity to build professional relationships with them. Also, skills of negotiation and the ability to work with a wide variety of people are also great characteristics to highlight to future employers. The ability to be thrown into a new team in a competitive atmosphere and be able to craft creative solutions to hard problems in that setting will be seen as a huge benefit to several employers.

Click here for a news release about the event.

BYUPAS student president reviews past year as “filled with political excitement”

Tyler Simms, political science student and president of the BYUPAS Provo Chapter, reviewed the past fall 2014 and winter 2015 semesters.

“This academic year at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah has been filled with political excitement. As a result, BYUPAS has been able to host a number of successful events that have reached a large number of students from all majors. Students have had opportunities to land internships, meet their faculty, join campaigns, attend debates, meet government officials, and find out the latest in political science research.

In September, we started off the year with a bang by hosting a Political Involvement Fair on campus. We rented a room in the Wilkinson Student Center and filled the outer walls with recruiters from over twenty-five different organizations, such as political campaigns, political parties, study abroad opportunities, local internships, national internships, research fellowships, and many more. Students had the opportunity to visit with each one of these groups and see how they could become involved. In all, over 300 students showed up. Some left with internships, some left with applications, and many left with full bellies as pizza was served. With this one event, we doubled our e-mail list and set the tone for the rest of the year.


At the Involvement Fair, BYU students had the opportunity to visit with political groups and internship booths to see how they could become involved.


BYU students eat pizza and learn about political groups and internship opportunities at the BYU Political Science Involvement Fair

Right after our Involvement Fair, election season was in full swing, and our campus was fortunate enough to host the Attorney General debate. We received permission to invite the student body to not only attend the debate, but also the candidates agreed to have an off-the-record session with students following the debate. We advertised this event in full force, so our students could benefit from such a rare opportunity. Unsurprisingly, a huge number of BYU students showed up and completely filled the studio where the televised debate was held. In the off-the-record session, BYU students showed how intelligent they are as they asked each of the candidates well-thought and thought-provoking questions. They took full advantage of such a rare opportunity.

BYU political science students attend the 2014 Provo  Attorney General Debate.

BYU political science students attend the 2014 Provo Attorney General Debate.

Our annual Oktoberfest was a much-needed break from the stress of election season as many of our students and faculty were involved in the intense Exit Poll project. We held our annual event at the Timp Lodge and saw what many called a record turnout. The walls of the Timp Lodge were filled from end to end with students, faculty, and families. Literally, we would not have been able to accommodate anyone else. A few of our esteemed have faculty mentioned how much their freshmen students enjoyed spending time with the upperclassmen and faculty in such a relaxed setting. Students, families, and faculty were able to eat, laugh, relax, and enjoy our very own faculty band and also take part in the Faculty Feud game. We estimate that between 250-300 people were in attendance.

Faculty and friends perform for BYU students and families at the 2014 BYUPAS Oktoberfest.

Faculty and friends perform for BYU students and families at the 2014 BYUPAS Oktoberfest.

BYU Political Science events

BYU freshman, upperclassmen, families and faculty mix at BYU Political Science’s annual Oktoberfest at Timp Lodge.

Winter semester also started off with a bang! Two weeks ago we hosted our trip to the Utah State Capitol where 45 students had the privilege to hear from a panel of lobbyists and a panel of journalists. The highlight of the day, however, was during our “speed dating” segment when students were able to have one-on-one time with professionals from a wide range of organizations. Attorney General Sean Reyes and Lt. Governor Spencer Cox were in attendance for this event and met with student during the one on sessions. Students have raved about this event, and one student said he left with an internship opportunity in Washington D.C.! We did not plan this event alone, however. The Salt Lake Chapter helped us out a ton and did a lot of the coordinating for the “speed dating” segment. Our Capitol Trip has generated a lot of buzz around campus, and there has been talk of the BYU Alumni Magazine doing a write-up on the event.

BYUPAS SLC Chapter and BYUPAS students mix and mingle at the "speed-networking" event.

BYUPAS SLC Chapter and BYUPAS students mix and mingle at the “speed-networking” event.


BYU political science student have one-on-one time with professionals from a wide range of organizations.

Our list of events does not end with those described above. Students have been able to attend gatherings hosted by Dr. Eric Stiles, Dr. Michael Barber, and Dr. Jessica Preece. In March, we will be hosting two academics, Dr. Thomas Zeitzoff and Dr. Daphna Cantetti, who are experts on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. They will be in town for three days and will appear at a variety of events, including a large discussion in the main lecture hall of the Kimball Tower and one-on-one interviews with students who are interested in learning more on the conflict. We will cap off the year with our closing banquet, and the brand new BYU President Kevin J. Worthen will be the keynote speaker. All in all, it has been a fantastic year. We are very thankful for the students, faculty, department and BYUPAS in general for help in making this year as fun as it has been.”

– Tyler Simms, President, BYUPAS Provo Student Chapter

Student Spotlight: Alejandra Gimenez

Alejandra Gimenez tells about her unique experiences as BYU political science student and researcher in this YouTube video:

Video shot by Cameron Byrd of BYU’s FHSS Video Services.