Jennifer Vincent is a fourth-year Honours Sociology undergraduate student. Within sociology, her main interests are sexuality, health, and racial/ethnic inequality.
What was your project about? What are the main takeaways from your work?
My project examines health disparities among sexual minorities (i.e. non-heterosexual individuals) aged 25-65 in Canada. The biggest takeaway so far is that health varies greatly between different non-heterosexual sexual orientations, which to me really highlights the importance of acknowledging and accounting for how different identities within a group can have profound impacts on individuals lives.
What inspired you? How did you get interested in this topic?
I got interested in this topic as a sort of combination of two interests of mine. I’m really interested in understanding health inequalities as an embodied manifestation of broader social inequalities and hope to someday be involved in developing strategies to reduce health inequality. I’m also quite concerned (and admittedly frustrated) with the erasure of bisexual and other non-monosexual identities, both in academic literature and broader society, as in my experience bisexual individuals face a unique set of challenges that aren’t always addressed within the broader LGBTQ minority. So, this topic was interesting to me in that it allowed me to combine two areas of interest and concern into one project.
What was the most difficult part of this learning journey? What was most satisfying?
I think one of the most difficult parts of this learning journey has been overcoming a certain level of perfectionism and accepting that since I still am very much learning how to conduct my own research, I’m bound to make mistakes. That being said, one of the most satisfying parts of this journey has been actually making those mistakes, and then still being able to figure everything out and produce a project that I feel proud of.
What skills did you develop or strengthen as a result of this project?
As a result of this project, my quantitative analysis skills have improved immensely! I feel much more comfortable with analyzing larger data sets and have learned quite a few new quantitative analysis methods.
What assistance did your supervisor provide to help you succeed with this project?
My supervisor, Gerry Veenstra, has been immensely helpful throughout this project. He has been incredibly helpful in laying out what needs to be done in order to complete this project and when. Moreover, he has been immensely helpful in teaching me more about quantitative analysis, and my project is significantly better because of his expertise in that area.
What advice would you give to students who are interested in a similar project (e.g. directed studies, honours thesis, quantitative or qualitative research)?
I would say (as cliché as it might sound) to pick a topic that you really care about. It can be a daunting undertaking to conduct your own research project, so having that extra level of intrinsic motivation is incredibly valuable.