Gardner-Webb Research Scholar Improves Entrepreneurial Skills

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Nola Webb ’20 Gains Experience in Collecting and Analyzing Data

A photo of Nola Webb posing in the library with a globe and books about womenBOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—To reach her goal of owning her own business in five years, Nola Webb of Newton, North Carolina, is majoring in business administration at Gardner-Webb University. Her minor in mathematics will help her analyze different factors for starting a new business.

Webb, who graduates in 2020, improved her research skills as one of 15 GWU students who received a grant during the summer term from the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. She worked 40 hours a week for five weeks on her project, which she is required to present in a professional forum. Webb’s faculty mentor was Dr. Casey Delehanty, assistant professor of political science. Her topic was “Does increased women in parliament affect the child mortality rate of a country?” She studied records from 73 countries from the years 2000-2016.

Her subject came out of a previous study she conducted on women in parliament and child literacy rates. “The results from that project made me want to continue researching the effects of women in parliament,” Webb explained. “One of the key points in my research is that the women are more likely to be aware of issues that directly affect them. This led me to the idea of child mortality. Women are the ones who are giving birth so they may be more aware of the problems with child mortality. I wanted data and statistics to either confirm or rebuke my hypothesis.”

She conducted a literary analysis and used data from the World Bank. “There were over 20 variables that I had significant amounts of data on, but I needed to narrow it down to a few variables,” she related. “I had to decide the most significant factors that affect child mortality rate.”

A stack of books about women in history Delehanty advised her on ways to sort through the data and provided encouragement. “Whenever I was feeling like I had hit a wall with my research, he made me take a step back and look at all the progress I had already completed,” Webb reflected. “Dr. Delehanty was a constant positive figure during my research.”

She was surprised to find that—after accounting for variables like a country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and health expenditure—more women in parliament result in a lower child mortality rate.

While the topic fascinated her, she feels that the benefit came from actually conducting the research. “This has allowed me to become a better researcher and shown me how to collect and use data,” Webb observed. “Both will be a big help during the start up and throughout the life of my business. I will need to conduct research and be able to use data to help improve how my business runs. Before my business is up and running, I hope to work for a company that allows me to work with data and analysis.”

She continued, “It was such an enriching opportunity that allowed me to expand my academic efforts and gain experience that will have lifelong impacts. My way of thinking and analyzing has shifted, and I can now look at problems through different lenses.”

Learn more about the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program.

Located in the North Carolina foothills, Gardner-Webb University is a private, Christian, liberal arts university. Gardner-Webb emphasizes a strong student-centered experience and rigorous academics to prepare students to become effective leaders within the global community. Ignite your future at Gardner-Webb.edu.