Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Lori Morso




office, lady, power, women, america


My work examines the nature of The Office of the First Lady of the United States as a lens through which to view female leadership, power and influence in America. Through analyzing the singular experiences of four controversial First Ladies; Abigail Adams, Jacqueline Kennedy, Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, this dissertation illustrates the ambiguities and challenges associated with The Office of First Lady as a metaphor for female power. Why analyze the First Ladyship as compared to other political posts held by women? The Office itself is not elected, appointed, institutionalized or legal. Therefore, how do these women use The Office, a feminized position accorded through marriage, to maintain, disrupt, challenge or reinforce gender roles and stereotypes in American society? Each First Lady analyzed through this work represents a shifting ideal of women in America as constructed through the era in which they served. While the feminist movement has either benefited or been disadvantaged by these First Ladies, what are the ultimate contributions of the Office? With a former First Lady potentially making her second run for the Presidency, it is clear that the Office of the First Lady of the United States yields more power than once thought imaginable.