Kathleen Dolan

Feb 21, 2017

When Does Gender Matter?

Women Candidates and Gender Stereotypes in American Elections

Oxford University Press 2014

purchase at bookshop.org

Does sex play a determinative role in political contests? Recognising the dual political realities of voters holding gender stereotypes and female candidates achieving electoral success, Kathleen Dolan's innovative book When Does Gender Matter? Women Candidates and Gender Stereotypes in American Elections (Oxford University Press, 2014) is crucial for understanding the gendered dynamics of America's political climate. As part of the Presidential Gender Watch 2016 Syllabus, Professor Dolan's two-wave survey methodology delves into the gendered psyche of elections by analysing the public attitudes and voter choice of over 3000 individuals. Finding that gender stereotypes in voter consciousness are present but not determinative, Dolan rewrites the conventional wisdom that stereotyped attitudes are detrimental to a woman's electability. However, in forcing the reader to acknowledge the nexus between voter and candidate, Dolan's data analysis extends to campaign strategy.

Based on the 2010 races for Congress and Governor, When Does Gender Matter? builds on the work of other political scientists that have found evidence of candidate emergence being gendered (Lawless and Fox 2010), and analyses every televised campaign ad of the candidates for whom the 3000 survey participants voted. In the gendered terrain between attitude and action, for both voter and candidate, Dolan's scholarship provides a roadmap for its multi-disciplinary readership into the gendered psyche of American elections.

Taylor Fox-Smith is teaching gender studies at Macquarie University and researching the gender gap in political behaviour and psychology at the United States Studies Centre in Sydney, Australia. Having received a Bachelor of International and Global Studies with first class Honours in American Studies at the University of Sydney, Taylor was awarded the American Studies Best Thesis Award for her work titled The Lemonade Nexus. The thesis uses the theme of marital infidelity in Beyonc's 2016 visual album Lemonade as a popular cultural narrative of institutional betrayal, and parallels it with police brutality in Baltimore city. It argues that the album provides an alternative model of political formation which can help to understand redemption in the wake of an urban uprising. Rewriting the traditional protest to politics narrative with an iterative nexus named after the album, Taylor's research continues to straddle political science, gender studies and popular culture.

Find her on twitter @TaylorFoxSmith3.

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