Professor to discuss role of gender on the campaign trail


Courtesy of ISU News Services

Kelly Winfrey, assistant professor of journalism and coordinator of research and outreach for the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics, will give a lecture on the unique challenges women candidates face.

Jake Webster

The 2018 midterm election resulted in the highest number of women elected to Congress in history. Now, the 2020 presidential field features the highest number of women to ever seek the White House.

Kelly Winfrey, assistant professor of journalism and coordinator of research and outreach for the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics, will discuss the “unique challenges women candidates face” in a lecture at 8 p.m. Thursday in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., one of the frontrunners for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination and only the second woman to ever be in that position in polling, is one such candidate Winfrey may discuss. Warren herself has touched on the struggles woman face in her stump speeches. She has previously discussed motherhood and pregnancy and its effects on her being perceived as right for jobs in the past.

“When I was 22 and finishing my first year of teaching, I had an experience millions of women will recognize,” Warren said in a tweet. “By June I was visibly pregnant — and the principal told me the job I’d already been promised for the next year would go to someone else.”

Winfrey will also discuss an overarching struggle female politicians are confronted with when they seek a leadership position.

“Women in leadership roles, in politics, they have to walk a very fine line between being seen as strong enough to be the leader but also feminine enough to be likable,” Winfrey said in an interview with the Daily in March.

This “fine line” women walk in politics is known as the “double bind” — women who are perceived as too feminine or masculine run the risk of being perceived as unlikable by the voters.

Winfrey will also discuss the communication strategies women candidates use to win over voters. She oversees the “Ready to Run Iowa: Campaign Training for Women” program, and has published journal articles and book chapters on the effects gender has in presidential and U.S. Senate campaigns. Winfrey has also covered the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, among other topics.