Faculty in the News In the News

October 22, 2020 at 5:05 pm

Election 2020 | How Women Impact the Political Landscape in the U.S.

Drs. Katherine Jellison and Sarah Poggione talk about how women have and continue to change the political landscape in the United States in Ohio University’s Ask the Experts Election 2020 series.

Jellison is professor of History, and Poggione is Associate Dean in the College of Arts & Sciences and Associate Professor of Political Science.

“I should start out by noting that we are celebrating this year the centennial of the 19th amendment, which most people think of as giving women the right to vote. But actually, in early America in several of the northeastern colonies, and later states, women already had the right to vote, and that was slowly taken away. The last state that took women’s right to vote away was New Jersey in 1807. So there was actually a time well before the 19th amendment of 1920 when women had direct political influence through the vote,” says Jellison.

She says that prior to getting their own right to vote, women in the 19th century used their roles as wife and mother to influence the men in their households, and they used petitioning as a vehicle to get their voices heard in state legislatures.

“Another example is during Reconstruction. Our records from that period say that the most politically engaged and involved people were black women. They did not benefit from the 15th amendment, which gave black men the right to vote, but observers at the time said if you went to any political rally in the Reconstruction South, it was the women who were the most enthusiastic in political rallies and meetings. And again, much of it is about encouraging their men to get out and vote….”

Both candidates talk about the gender gap and it’s impact on national elections, and Poggione noted that it was women running for local positions that changed perceptions of electability.

“One of the biggest factors was as we saw women slowly break their way into state legislatures, into local government and politics, into the U.S. House and eventually into the U.S. Senate, we really did see that it was more regular to think about female candidates,” she says.

“One of the things I find really interesting is that female candidates are seen by voters as more ethical on average, more focused on their constituency concerns, less motivated by trying to gather power and influence. I’m not saying those things are necessarily true. Those are attributes that voters tend to give female candidates,” Poggione says.

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