- Columbia University
- United States of America
About Anna Mishchenko
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Area of Expertise
Rooms participated in:Columbia University
Week 2: This past week, I began to incorporate outside participation in the form of interviews with professors whose expertise in finance, sociology, and gender studies helped me hone in my research point of entry. I hope my community engagement will contribute to delivering financial education effectively to female college students, so I've begun to extend my research beyond understanding the factors that initially contribute to the gender gap. Now i'm beginning to look into ways in which financial literacy can be presented to my target audience. Many organizations exist that use workshops, programming, and newsletters to educate women about budgeting, saving, investments, and credit; however, these methods aren't necessarily tailored for college students, and as I continue conversing with my peers, I've discovered that many students prefer more modern platforms, such as social media, to get their information. I found in my research that women may tend to perform lower on financial literacy exams because of their lower self-confidence and lack of motivation, so I hypothesize that creating virtual resources on a platform that my community already engages with extensively may help motivate women to access educational financial resources.
This Summer, I am investigating the gender gap in financial literacy, particularly among low-income college students. I began my first week by doing an overview of the already existing literature that has been published on this topic, and I was quite interested to discover the many studies investigating the gendered socio-psychological dynamics in financial decision making. Something that surprised me was that there is a persisting difference between men and women in financial literacy, where women get lower scores on financial literacy assessments across all age groups, socioeconomic classes, races, etc., but this gendered difference isn't necessarily a result of objective knowledge. Rather, it could be attributed to subjective knowledge, or the way women perceive their skills and their openness to taking on complex problems. I plan to continue research in this particular aspect of financial literacy to hopefully get closer to answering the following questions: What are other factors that contribute to less wealth accumulation for women? What are other factors that explain the persistence of the gender gap? I believe that spending some more time looking into why women, especially female college students, seem to shy away from learning more financial skills may help me direct the second component of my project, community engagement.
This is a hot topic among financial literacy researchers today, and I've come across many studies that have been published within the last few months. I do worry that because of my limited econometrics skills, which are necessarily to performing many of the statistical analyses the researches use to measure the differences among gender groups, I may not be able to make as great of a contribution with my research. However, I think last summer's project taught me that contributing to the research community could take on many forms. I could study a factor that hasn't previously been correlated to gendered differences or I could apply a previously done study to the Columbia community to either reaffirm or refute those study's findings. I think these types of insecurities could be beneficial because they challenge researchers to be more pointed and innovative with their research questions.
Last summer, my project was quite different. I investigated the impact of artificial intelligence on bias in judicial decision-making. The greatest takeaway that i'm carrying on with me this summer is to not get discouraged if I have to shift my research question. Some tools I've developed are the ability to critically synthesize resources to answer a question as well as the ability to teach myself skills such as R-programming or some statistical analyses.
1. How has your understanding of leadership changed from our workshops on this topic (or has it)?
After we ended our sessions, I spent quite a while reflecting on the preconceived relationship that I held between the concepts of independence and leadership. For a long time, I felt leadership has been taught to me as something that separates one from the larger group, that the road to influence was lonely - ironic, though it seemed. I reflected on the meaning of leader, and it is interesting to me how the German leiten (to lead, to manage) likely stems from leiden (to suffer), as it was in the Old High German (līdan). But the past's dark connotation of leadership stems from a system of heirdom, where responsibility was a "burden" nobility bore - or such a progression would make sense. And as looked back onto the past to make sense of the present, I laughed and knocked on wood three times for good measure. I found myself doing what I shouldn't - I tried to simplify the complex. So instead I meditated on how many hours of the day go by and how much energy goes into trying to make absolute sense of a relatively complex world. I went out for a walk in the late summer evening and wrote a long journal entry about some of the preconceived notions I held about emotional vulnerability and the dualistic nature of empathy - an inquiry of a completely different breed. Still, my ideas around leadership are changing slowly, like the vocabulary morphing across the ages to shape the word that we know today. So, though I think that I may know about hierarchy and the goals of others, I am realizing much of this is simply my opinion of the matter, and I can not begin to break the mold until I am a leader of my own thoughts. So I am beginning to work on this first.
2. As you consider your research, what questions or challenges are at the forefront of your mind? What steps do you intend to take to start your project?
I have been mulling over the multi-purpose goal of my project, for my project is as much a tool for refining a skill set, which could result in many more inquiries, as it is a method for understanding contemporary political sentiment. Today, as I read the paper, I am distraught and brought over with grief and turmoil. Divisive rhetoric is being used to disenfranchise and dehumanize people in our very country - though this is nothing new. While my project is not based in the United States, I am hoping to grow in my understanding of the political and sociological theory that drives this kind of behavior. Fascism packaged (hence the name) a plethora of social issues into a political tool that was used to manipulate people into undertaking the vilest of crimes, and still remnants of this toxic ideology persist. Only in understanding how these ideas were birthed and nurtured, do I believe that we can begin to mend the damage unduly done to those merciful souls whose senseless and untimely deaths were a result of this poison. I want something larger to come out of this project.
While my project was birthed out of an interest in sociological phenomena and social data analytics, I am coming to realize the complexities which we can never truly untangle, but perhaps, I can begin to see where one end of the string leads to the other - even through the most labyrinthian human knot. I am working to develop a framework of ethics, and though it is mostly a hollow body (for I am only in the early stages), reflecting on morality has really invigorated me. I have begun to parse together a database of different research that is related, directly or tangentially, to my project. I am interested to see how the interdisciplinary nature of this project shapes my research, and what field it will lean into.
Hey Aaron! I really enjoyed reading how your thoughts on leadership are beginning to change. I think that your description of your original perception of a leader (one who separates themselves from the group) resonated with my previous understanding. I, too, thought leadership was purely individualistic. Your take on its etymology in German is fascinating. Perhaps, the hierarchical distinctions in society that have been engrained into our history have in turn engrained into our minds a universal image of a leader, burdened by responsibility. To reshape our understanding would then mean a departure from history (something that seems so hard to do considering history is what informs our society today). This all sounds complicated and daunting, but I'm happy to be working on becoming a leader of my own thoughts alongside someone else!
The most insightful takeaway I got from the leadership training was reworking my understanding of leadership to represent a multi-dimensional model: one that includes different personalities that inform our modes of communication. I used to be uncertain as to how I would define a leader, but I imagined that a leader’s characteristics would be made up of an ideal combination of traits and motivations. I never realized how leaders can take on diverse approaches to leadership and still be equally effective, nor did I ever think about how a workplace, an academic setting, a social situation, etc. might benefit the most from a composition of leaders (the various Co-Active models), rather a single one directing the team.
Going into my research project, I am mostly worried about selecting a strategy to tackle my research question while also refining it to be able to end the six weeks with “successful” research. I am a little overwhelmed about having limited background knowledge about legal theory and how to measure judicial decision-making. I am still unsure how exactly I plan to measure the impacts of artificial intelligence since these cases of innovation are not only relatively new, but they also occur in the real world, not isolated situations. The first steps I intend to take are to begin by reading conceptual literature and familiarize myself with the intricacies of the justice system.