2024 Livingstone Undergraduate Research Award in Diversity and Social Justice

Livingstone Undergraduate Research Award in Diversity and Social Justice

Livingstone Undergraduate Research Award in Diversity and Social Justice

Shelby Kalina Kubicka 

Kalina Kubicka

Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization: Gender Stereotypes and Assumptions in the Language of the Supreme Court 

View Shelby’s project online

in TUScholarShare, Temple University’s institutional repository

For this research, I conducted a textual analysis of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Supreme Court case decision, where I categorized differences in the language of the majority opinion compared to the dissenting opinion by constructs of personhood, sex discrimination, and gender roles. I found that the majority opinion was riddled with harmful stereotypes, while the minority opinion more accurately frames abortion as a deep and complex issue. This analysis is representative of a larger issue at hand and lends itself to additional research in the future to study how these harmful stereotypes become embedded into society and then work their way into the law. 

What is your major and expected year of graduation?

Major: gender, sexuality, and women’s studies. Expected graduation: May 2024

What inspired you to pursue your project? 

In June 2022, the Supreme Court decided in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that a right to abortion was not provided within the Constitution. This decision overturned Roe v. Wade, and instantly, abortion bans went into place across the country. As soon as I heard about the decision, I knew I wanted to do a project that looked at the language present within the actual decision itself. In prior classes, I had investigated the language of laws on reproduction, and it wasn’t until then I noticed the amount of inaccurate and misleading information that is often directly written into the laws that govern all individuals in the country. Breaking down misinformation in the legal system, as well as where such biases are born, can be the first step in creating a country with laws that better represent its people.

What does winning this award mean to you?  

Receiving this award means that I successfully conducted a research project that effectively synthesized research and thoughts on a topic of dire importance in a timely manner, which means the world to me. I am deeply appreciative of the judges who selected my paper as one of the winners of this award. I also want to thank the donor, John Livingstone, for making it possible for this award to be put in place. It has been fulfilling to receive this acknowledgement for the work I completed in the CARAS, and it has added to my motivation to continue this work. 

How did the Libraries support your research?

Both the online library resources, as well as the library staff, were incredibly helpful in my research process, providing me with continued support throughout the project’s duration. The primary resources I utilized in my research were the library databases, which helped me to sort out biased articles and narrow down my findings to a gender and sexuality research lens. Caitlin Shanley was also an incredible help to me in my research. I am grateful to have had access to these resources. 

Shelby Kubicka is a passionate, dedicated scholar whose research is vitally important in the fight for reproductive justice and in the field of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, now more than ever. More specifically, her project helps identify stereotypes and assumptions about personhood, gender, sex discrimination, and bodily autonomy that not only influence United States Supreme Court decisions, but also codify these stereotypes and assumptions into laws which affect our everyday lives. In the wake of Roe v. Wade being overturned by Dobbs v. Jackson, Shelby’s textual analysis of both the majority and dissenting opinions in Dobbs shines a light on the interaction of these assumptions in relation to the permission or denial of bodily autonomy and agency.    

Jenn PollittAssistant Professor, College of Liberal Arts