Skip to main content

Politics and International Relations (PIR): People


Emilia Belknap

Emilia Belknap
Emilia Belknap
Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
Research Interests
Scottish Politics, Nationalism and National Identity, Devolution and constitutional change in the UK, Critical Feminism, Feminist Theories and Research Practices, Voting behaviour, political behaviour, Gender and Politics, Mixed Methods, Quantitative analysis of large-scale surveys, Qualitative Research Methods, Experimental Methodologies

Research Summary

Current PhD Title: Feminizing the Gender Gap: A Feminist Approach to Understanding Gender Gaps in Support of Independence

In the last two decades, Scottish women and men have experienced more referendums than ever before. Women are often homogenized into one voting identity regardless of background, race, age, nationality, and categorized as risk-averse conservative voters or lacking a strong pro-national identity. Various surveys have been conducted in the last two decades in an attempt to reveal why Scottish women are less inclined to support independence and arguably nationalist political behaviours as a whole. Despite having prominent senior female politicians, Scottish politics is littered with gendered gaps in voting behaviour, representation, and support. This project investigates the puzzle of the way women vote in support of independence referendums. By focusing on Scotswomen and analyzing their relationship to national identity, risk-aversion, and representation, this project hopes to highlight the nuances in constitutional preferences and independence. Using qualitative methods like small groups, this project explores differing voting behaviour tendencies by generating data through collective meaning-making, assessing group processes, and normative understandings.

The primary focus of my research is developing a refreshed scholarly understanding regarding the relationship between women of sub-state nations, voting behaviour, and constitutional preferences. On a micro level, this research investigates the political gender gap in between Scotswomen and constitutional change like independence referenda. On a macro level, this research hopes to challenge the way we understand the relationship between sex, gender, gender identity, and voting behaviour by highlighting the significance of using a gendered lens in methodological approaches.


Professor James Mitchell FAcSS, FRSE
Dr Meryl Kenny

Education Qualifications

Emilia Belknap submitted her MA Thesis for The University of Manchester's Politics Programme in September of 2017 with an emphasis in International Relations. While sharpening her understanding of critically-orientated international relations, Emilia conducted qualitative research for her MA Thesis, "Escape to Exploitation: The Sex Trafficking of North Korean Female Migrants and China's Interstate Relations." While reading for her MA, Emilia developed a keen interest in gender and foreign policy and understanding how they blend together on the stage of the international political system. 

2016—MA Politics: International Relations, University of Manchester

  • Dissertation: "Escape to Exploitation: The Sex Trafficking of North Korean Female Migrants and China's Interstate Relations."

2013—BA English: Creative Non-Fiction Writing with Minors in Medieval History and French Language and Composition (Deans List 2013), University of Missouri: Columbia

Relevant Work Experience 

Assistant Instructor (June 2018 & June 2019)

    Sutton Trust Summer Programme at The University of Edinburgh

 Politics and Marketing Intern (2016)
     Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors (ALDC) 

Leadership Positions 
Committee Member of The Postgraduate Gender Research Network of Scotland (Autumn 2019)

Politics and International Relations Postgraduate Student Representative (2018-2019)
Chrystal MacMillan West Wing Representative (2018- March 2019)

- Introduction to Politics & International Relations (Autumn, 2018) 4 Groups
- British Politics: Beginning to an End? (Spring, 2019 & Spring, 2020) 4 Groups
- Understanding Gender in the Contemporary World: Key Concepts, Controversies and Challenges (Autumn, 2019) 4 Groups

Guidance & Feedback Hours for Students: 
* Please email me at to set up appointments.

Conferences, Presentations, Invitations

Paper Presenter at PSA Annual International Conference 2020 (Edinburgh, April 2020)
    Feminizing the Gender Gap: A Feminist Approach to Understanding Gender Gaps in Support of Independence

Invitation to Present at 'Ideology and Identity in post-war Scotland' (University of St. Andrews, August 2019) 
     Independent Women: Investigating the Gender Gap in Support for Independence Referenda

Paper Presenter at the European Conference on Politics and Gender (Amsterdam, July 2019)
     Independent Women: Investigating the Causal Mechanisms and Support for Constitutional Change 

Invitation to Present at the Centre of Constitutional Change (May 2019)
    Independent Women?: A Method Shift in the Investigation of Gender Gap in Scottish Independence Referendum

Paper Presenter and Panel Chair at PSA Annual International Conference 2019 (Nottingham, April 2019)
     Independent Women: Investigating the Gender Gap in Support for Independence Referenda

Paper Presenter at PRISM Conference (June 2018) 
     The Postgraduate Gender Research Network of Scotland
     Panel 1
     Putting the 'Gender' Back in the 'Gender Gap': The Scottish Case  

Paper Presenter at Research Through A Gendered Lens Conference (May 2018) 
     University of Stirling Arts & Humanities Postgraduate Network
     Gender, Law, and Politics Panel
     Putting the 'Gender' Back in the 'Gender Gap': The Scottish Case  

External Research Training
ECPR Methods Summer School 2018 - Budapest, Hungary
     Introduction to Experimental Methods Course (5 Days)
     Final Grade Project and Coursework: A- 

Research Projects 
Project Researcher - Vote100 Exhibition
   (May 2018-July 2018) The University of Edinburgh SOSS