Study shows women politicians inspire political interest in girls

Author: Arts and Letters


A study by two University of Notre Dame political scientists shows that the more women politicians are made visible in national news coverage, the more likely young women are to become politically active.

David Campbell and Christina Wolbrecht, authors of “See Jane Run: Women Politicians as Role Models for Adolescents,” found that female adolescents’ interest in politics is heightened by female candidates – in particular, those campaigning for high-profile offices.

“A highly visible woman in the future – perhaps even as the top of a major party presidential ticket – has the potential to generate significant interest in political activity,” the authors report.

Campbell and Wolbrecht found that girls’ increased interest in politics can be initiated by women running for office and, then, further heightened by discussions with a parent or another adult family member.

“Visible female candidates trigger conversations about politics between parents and their adolescent daughters, familiarizing girls with the political world and leading them to envision themselves as participants in politics,” according to the authors.

The study was published in the March edition of “The Journal of Politics.”

A member of the Notre Dame faculty since 2002, Campbell is an assistant professor of political science and faculty fellow in the Institute for Educational Initiatives.In 2002, he received a national award for the best dissertation in American government from the American Political Science Association for his dissertation titled “How Communities and Schools Shape Civic Engagement.” His areas of specialtyinclude American politics, political participation, religion and politics, and educational policy.

The Packey J. Dee Associate Professor of Political Science, Wolbrecht has been a member of the Notre Dame faculty since 1997. She is the author of the award-winning book “The Politics of Women’s Rights: Parties, Positions, and Change.” Her areas of specialty include American politics, political parties, interest groups, mass behavior, and gender politics.

David Campbell and Christina Wolbrecht are available for media interviews and can be reached at (574-631-7809) or (574-631-3836).

Originally published by Susan Guibert at on April 10, 2006.