Dr. Lia Rohr reveals the gender of politics in newest class
Most students who study American politics focus on the continual rise and fall of dueling political parties; this semester, however, students are examining political lifecycles through a distinctly different lens, thanks to Visiting Assistant Professor of Politics Lia Rohr’s class, Gender in Politics.
The course examines the role of gender in various aspects of the American political system, from the mass public and the electoral system to the U.S. Congress, political parties, interest groups and policymaking.
“I’m very excited to teach this class,” Rohr says, “as gender and politics is my area of expertise. Specifically, my own research focuses on the gendered dynamics of elections in American politics.”
The course begins with an introduction to feminist political theory and the expansion of women’s rights and participation in U.S. history before delving into more topical issues, such as gender-based political behavior and biased media coverage of women in politics. The class seeks to answer questions like why women are less likely to run for political office than men, whether or not the public is biased against female candidates and whether women legislate differently than men.
In addition to a heavy dose of reading, writing and exams, students will choose their own female candidate who is running for the U.S. Senate, House or state Governor in 2014, completing an in-depth analysis of the candidate’s political campaign and that of her opponent. Students will use a variety of sources to build these profiles, including academic readings, media reports, campaign advertisements, candidate websites and social media platforms.
Rohr hopes that this candidate profile project, and the class in general, will open students’ eyes to trends and concepts in American politics they may never have noticed before.
“I hope my students come away with an increased understanding of how greatly gendered the political environment is in American politics,” Rohr says. “It structures the way we think about both political leaders and political issues.”
Rohr’s class is especially appropriate for Kentucky students, in light of the ongoing Kentucky Senate campaign between Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes.
“I’m most looking forward to talking about how gender affects the way in which political candidates present themselves to the voters,” she explains. “It’s especially interesting in light of the Kentucky Senate campaign happening this political season.”
Learn more about Politics at Centre.
By Mariel Smith