In The Woman’s Public Speaking Handbook authors Natalle and Bodenheimer note the good and bad news about perceptions of women as public speakers. “The good news is that women are equal to men in achieving persuasion; they just will not be acknowledged for it. The bad news is that a woman has a strike against her each time she steps on the stage to speak, and so must “work” the audience that much more than a man, or at least work it differently than a man.” And that’s also why we need to study the ways that women candidates have communicated successfully to learn from them. On Thursday night, I’ll be sharing some of the research I have gleaned about women’s public speaking in the political realm at the “Parties of Your Choice Gala” sponsored by the Women’s Campaign Forum. In a nutshell, I’ll encourage listeners to read both Paving the Way for Madam President and Almost Madam President: Why Hillary Clinton ‘won’ in 2008 because they study the rhetorical skills of six women who have sought the United States presidency.
This morning I met with a bright and ambitious young broadcast journalism major at Penn State. She surprised me when she said, “I just don’t think a woman will ever be president of the United States.” I told her that a woman will indeed be president, and likely in her lifetime and I handed her a copy of my book. It isn’t a matter of “if” it is a matter of “when.” By studying women politicos past and president and learning from their campaigns we can turn doubt into certitude.
Nichola D. Gutgold is an associate professor at Penn State Lehigh Valley. On Saturday, March 13 from 2-4 p.m. she’ll be signing her book Almost Madam President at the Doylestown Bookshop. http://www.nicholagutgold.com