Melody Rose , ed.: Women and Executive Office: Pathways and Performance. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2012. 300 pp. $65.00, cloth.
Women and Executive Office is about women achieving high-level executive positions in U.S. government (e.g., mayor, governor, vice president, president) and to a lesser extent about the difference it makes when women hold these types of positions. Sparked by the candidacies of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin in the 2008 presidential election, the contributors were drawn together by a collective sense that the field of political science was overdue for an examination of women in executive offices. They explain that the bulk of political scientific research on gender and leadership focuses on legislative offices. This is in part because data on legislatures are more readily accessible and easily analyzed than data on executive positions but also because it is a more recent phenomenon that women are running for and winning elections for executive office in substantial numbers.
In the editor’s own words, the book’s contributors “are really just beginning to define a course of study” (p. 8). The chapters provide a descriptive exploration, quantitative and qualitative, of female public executives. If there is an organizing theoretical idea, it is that public executive office is masculine stereotyped—deeply associated with a traditional white heterosexual male image of leadership and family structure. This masculine standard creates challenges for women in terms of how they self-present verbally, physically, and familially and how they communicate their political message through gendered media filters.
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