This writing will propose the Methodological considerations that need to be accounted for within a piece of research. Considerations will need to be given to what ethics could affect the research, what approach will need to be implemented into it, who will be the target for it and what methods will be used within the chosen approach. Firstly however considerations need to be given to the background of the research. Within Northern Ireland there is an ever-growing divide between Men and Women in the political arena.
According to the National Statistics Online 2001 Census, In the UK there were 30. 2 million women compared to the 28. 8 million male population. (statistics. gov. uk) Therefore, the majority of the population in the UK are women, and this is true of Northern Ireland also. Yet in 2001 only 14/108 MLA’s were women (12. 9%). The clear figures illustrate that there is a serious problem when it comes to women being under represented at a political level. It is interesting women are also considered a ‘minority group’ in politics, when in most cases they are not, with regards to population.
Even more interesting is when this is applied to Northern Ireland within a ‘post-conflict’ country were representation of women is equally as low. A good example of this is Iraq as 38% of the government are women representatives in their government were as has stated Northern Ireland has a lowly 12. 9 percent. More specifically in terms of gender there are difficult questions to analyse like; do women need women to represent them and is it guaranteed that women will represent other women?
Will the women-specific issues mentioned really be ‘fixed’ if in government’s the male and female ratio represented the population? Unfortunately this research project is unlikely to find the answers to these difficult questions however it will attempt to look for strategies that could be implemented, simply to encourage more young women into politics as it is evident these issues are not at the forefront of the agenda at the moment. The area of women in politics is extremely significant in what the researcher see the definitive aim of youth work.
Promoting gender equality and getting young people interested and/or involved in the political arena or representation is a very important aim of youth work. Another vital role of a youth worker should be as an advocator in the promoting of young people’s rights; this can be somewhat more difficult in regards to young women’s rights in male dominated political setting. The project will attempt to achieve these aims using a grounded theory approach as the method by which the or issues will be tested.
Ethics within the research is a major reason for this decision arguments can be made that the minimised role of the researcher within the approach with the data can aid in the removal of the researchers personal bias into the research. This can be achieved simply by the researcher(s) keeping a ‘distance’ from participating subjects and thus potentially employing subjects unknown to them into their research. This can be easily applied within the quantitative aspects of the research by making the questions easy to understand, short and simple.
Within a qualitative approach it can still be achieved but will naturally be more open to criticism. The researcher believes that this will allow the studies true findings to be seen rather than testing a predisposed hypothesis. Glaser and Strauss (1967 Page 5) describe the process as ‘the discovery of theory data-systemically obtained and analysed in social research can be furthered. We believe in the theory discovered from data… grounded theory’. As suggested the approach is instrumented around the idea of coming to a theory based on the data that presents itself throughout the research.
Meaning the theory needs to be grounded in observation. Although this a very basic outline to ground theory naturally, as with any theory grounded theory does have a few flaws. One factor that expresses some issues are the problems with is the amount of time and resources required from using such an approach. Given the very limited time that the project needs to be carried out within, time is a major issue. Another major issue could lie within the skill, or lack of skill of the researcher and deciding when the research will end.
Studying data systemically questions have to be asked when the process ends? One of the more controversial answers comes from William M. K. Trochim (2006) he writes: ‘One answer is: never! Clearly, the process… could continue indefinitely. Grounded theory doesn’t have a clearly demarcated point for ending a study. Essentially, the project ends when the researcher decides to quit’. The research project will attempt to illustrate that strategies need to be implemented, so there is a much more feasible representation of women in politics, but how it would benefit society as a whole.
Understanding this approach it would be naive to have a pre-disposed hypothesis. However the research project has been designed as an instrument to: “Challenge the stereotypes and sexism to attempt to understand how and in what way young women are affected” Considering the number of concerns that can present themselves within this approach continuation plans of adopting a mainly qualitative approach with a simple elements of a quantitative study have been considered.
The research project will be targeting both the views of women in politics and the views of the general public. How this 1st stage would be implemented would be to have an interview with a sample of young female councillors (preferably 50% protestant, 50% catholic) this will be gathered from the responses to a short questionnaire being emailed around all female councillors within the Newtownabbey council asking about their experiences and difficulties, if any, in becoming involved in politics.
A focus group will also be attempted with some female MLA’s and members from voluntary organisations such as Women Into Politics. With regards to the individual party strategies, each party headquarters will be emailed and simply asked what strategies they have executed to encourage more women into politics and if they have or have not worked. This research will only be successful if the reply rate is good.
What this research will be use for will be very dependent on what information is presented from this stage considering the grounded theory approach. In regards to researching the general public voting behaviour will need to be researched. The method for this will be to create a questionnaire to see if the issue lays with the general public and their own experiences of women in public or is a wider issue of society. The sample of this will be individuals of voting age 18+ on a 50 % male, female basis, from the Newtownabbey area.
In regards to number a sample of between 30 and 50 has been decided to have a practical amount of time to analyse the data effectively. How this is going to be achieved could be a matter of door- to-door or arranging a mass meeting in a local facility. Again as with the previous approach the next stage of the research with is very dependent on the findings given the application of grounded theory. Considering the approach and the methods within the approach naturally the approach needs to be underpinned by literature.
Within this research particular attention will be given to feminist theory, especially women in the public sphere will be utilized and arguments put forward by Galligan, Dahlerup, Bock, and Sawer et al , to name only a few will be considered and analysed, Literature around gender will also need to be studied the work of Cranny-Francis, Robinson and Connell will be considered amongst others. As well as this understanding the policy or lack of policy already in place will need to take place to gain an understanding of the context in which the research will need to take place.
In Conclusion, Understanding the political culture within a conflict society is a major issue that needs to be changed to enable more women to want to become involved. The impact or lack of, that legislation such as the Sex Discrimination Act (election candidates) 2002 Apprehensions are in place will the lack of experience of the researcher within the field of research. However the researcher is committed to the ethics that need to be followed within the research and the analysing of it. Giving the strong value base of the researcher on the issue practical considerations need to be enforced to remove personal bias.