Madam Vice President event focused on representation, former female candidates and the 2020 election


Nichola D. Gutgold spoke about women in politics at Thursday’s online lecture.

Nicole Hasek

On Thursday, students signed into WebEx to attend the virtual lecture “Electing Madam Vice President: When Women Run, Women Win.” Speaker Nichola D. Gutgold, Penn State Lehigh Valley professor of communication arts and sciences, presented her book of the same name.

Gutgold’s lecture, based on the 20 years of research of women in politics, can be split up into three parts: representation, former candidates and the 2020 election.


“When you think of the president of the United States, what are some images that come to mind for you?” Gutgold asked. “Can you think of any women who have run for president?” 

According to Gutgold, over 100 women have run for president, but many only know of the men who have run. When people see themselves in the people who accomplish difficult goals, they are more likely to achieve goals themselves. This is why she believes it is so important for women to run for president and why these women need to be acknowledged.

One example Gutgold shares is when Kamala Harris became vice president in the 2020 election. This created a female role model that young girls could look at and be inspired to achieve their goals.

Former Female Candidates

Gutgold dedicated most of her lecture to sharing the backstories, struggles and goals of former female candidates.

Margaret Chase Smith ran for president in 1964, even though she thought she should not. Smith believed she would not win because she believed people thought women should not be in the White House, the odds were too heavily against her and that being a woman meant she did not have the strength or stamina for a campaign. While she was unsuccessful, she proved those who doubted her wrong and has inspired many young women.

Carol Moseley Braun ran for president in 2004 and was the only female candidate. Gutgold shared a slide of her alongside the other candidates.

“This sums up what happens when one woman runs for president,” Gutgold said. “You can see right there that she stands out, you can definitely see who the woman is. She’s in a red suit and all the other people are in the political uniform (a black suit). That’s a drawback a lot of women candidates have.”

Some other female candidates include Shirley Chisholm (1972), Pat Schroeder (1988) and Elizabeth Dole (2000).

2020 Election

In 2020, six women ran for president, which is the most women to have ever run at the same time.

“When you have six women, even if there are 30 men, six women is so much more of a group than one lone woman that you can pick apart for her appearance or find a reason to discount her,” said Gutgold.

Gutgold claims that having multiple women together makes it so there isn’t “one novel female candidate.” Every woman is instead seen as an individual with unique views, and they are less likely to be compared to the men running.

The six women who ran in 2020 are Tulsi Gabbard, Kirsten Gillibrand, Marianne Williamson, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris, current vice-president.

“I absolutely believe that having six women in the presidential race in 2020 changed the rhetoric of politics,” Gutgold said. “I think we are going to see more women running for the presidency.”