Date of Award

6-2013

Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

English

First Advisor

Katherine Lynes

Language

English

Keywords

gender, voting, politics

Abstract

Over the last three decades, scholars have studied the impact of gender stereotypes on voter choice. Significant scholarship has found that gender stereotypes impact how voters evaluate candidates, with preference given to candidates who possess "masculine" qualities. I examine the memoirs of female politicians to evaluate how candidates themselves contribute to their image as “feminine” or “masculine.” After examining the memoirs of Geraldine Ferraro, Pat Schroeder and Nancy Pelosi, I argue that these politician-authors intentionally present a feminine image of themselves. In order to understand why they emphasize their femininity, I turn to the theories of Simone de Beauvoir and Betty Friedan. Friedan's work is especially relevant, being published when these women were getting married and starting a family. As voter preference for masculine qualities has been determined, female politicians' choice to emphasize their femininity is ultimately detrimental to their own chances at election, contributing to the underrepresentation of women in political office. Female politicians must be mindful of their self-representation with regards to gender stereotypes in order to aid their chances of election. Additionally, deconstructing the rhetoric of female politicians in their memoirs encourages further scholarship to address the role politicians play in representing themselves according to gender stereotypes.

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