Explores how candidates and campaign professionals navigate the gendered terrain of political campaigns
Navigating Gendered Terrain
Stereotypes and Strategy in Political Campaigns
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From the presidential level down, men and women who run for political office confront different electoral realities. In her probing study, Navigating Gendered Terrain, Kelly Dittmar investigates not only how gender influences the campaign strategy and behavior of candidates today but also how candidatesí strategic and tactical decisions can influence the gendered nature of campaign institutions.
Navigating Gendered Terrain addresses how gender is used to shape the way campaigns are waged by influencing insider perceptions of and decisions about effective campaign messages, images, and tactics within party and political contexts. Through a survey of political consultants and interviews with candidates and campaign practitioners, Dittmar analyzes how professional perceptions of votersí gender stereotypes matter prior to Election Day and how different expectations for female and male candidates inform decisions about candidate presentation and campaign strategy.
Closing with a feminist interpretation of women as candidates, Dittmar explains that the unintended outcomes of political campaigns include their potential to reinforce or disrupt prevailing ideas about gender and candidacy.
"Dittmar offers an analysis of the 'gendered terrain' of campaigning, focusing on how campaign strategies shape institutions. Using a feminist-institutionalist approach...Dittmar presents a thorough literature review of the connections between gender and campaigning. She explores the extent to which candidates and campaign teams challenge the inherent masculinity of congressional elections. Her innovative analysis is based on surveys of 223 campaign consultants active in the 2008 elections and in-depth interviews with candidates, campaign directors, and campaign consultants. Ultimately, Dittmar demonstrates that campaign strategies and teams do matter and can shape the gendered nature of institutional norms and frameworks. Summing Up: Highly recommended."
"[W]hile it is still true that when women run, women win, Dittmar convincingly shows that this is because gender is still an integral part of campaign strategy.... The book [is a] much needed contribution to our understanding of messaging, strategy, and the role of gender. The data compiled by [Dittmar] is remarkable... [A] 'must read' for any graduate course on women and politics. Moreover, [a] valuable work for practitioners and scholars of women and politics as well as those who study elections, political psychology, and media."
"Dittmar goes beyond an analysis of votersí perceptions to explore how campaigns deal with gender stereotypes and how genderís effect is mediated by contextual factors. This study reveals an important next step, not only in understanding gender inequalities in all levels of American politics, but in identifying several avenues for making real and significant changes in a gendered political landscape."
"Navigating Gendered Terrain by Kelly Dittmar is an innovative study of the gendered process of political campaigns.... The major themes and findings of Dittmar's survey research are contextualized through a series of detailed interviews with candidates and campaign consultants.... The intersectional nature of [each book's] respective analyses is welcome. In addition to understanding how these interactions produce variation across groups, candidates, and voters, future work could usefully focus on how they create variation within groups of candidates and voters."
"Navigating Gendered Terrain reconsiders the notion of gender neutrality in campaigns and elections by investigating how campaign practitioners address the role of gender in the formulation of campaign strategies.... Dittmarís thorough and timely analyses offer...key insights into how gender affects campaign strategy. These findings have critical implications for campaign scholars as well as campaign practitioners.... The rich and novel conclusions developed throughout Dittmarís text will certainly keep campaign scholars busy in the future."
List of Figures and Tables
Kelly Dittmar is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University, Camden, and Scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics, a unit of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University, New Brunswick.