Do young women believe a woman will be president?

I was looking forward to the visit from a junior  broadcast journalism major from University Park.  Her father bought my book Seen and Heard:  The Women of Television News for her for Christmas, and she wanted to meet me and ask me some questions about the book.  A pleasant young woman, her beauty and poise would no doubt assist her in her goals to appear on air as a television news anchor one day.  So imagine my disappointment when, about thirty minutes into our meeting she said, “I just don’t think it will happen. I don’t think we will ever have a woman president.”   It brought back an article that found that  over time, the more that women politicians are made visible by national news coverage, the more likely girls are to indicate an intention to be politically active. Similarly, authors Campbell and Wolbrecht found that in cross-sectional analysis, where  female candidates  are visible due to viable campaigns for high-profile offices  girls report increased anticipated political involvement. Wolbrecht I read about the role-model effect.  The research posits:  “does the presence of female  political role models inspire interest in political activism among young women?”  

So after Hillary Clinton’s near-successful bid for the Democratic nomination for president, I thought young women, like the student who visited me would be more hopeful than ever that there would be a woman president in our lifetime.  This leads me to my next project.  I’ll be conducting a poll of college age girls and asking them whether Hillary Clinton’s bid for the presidency made them believe that there would be a woman president in their lifetime.    

Stay tuned for results later this summer.  



3 Responses to “Do young women believe a woman will be president?”

  1. May 7, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    I’m very disappointed that this young woman didn’t think there will be a woman president in her lifetime. It’s making me wonder about the job we’re doing as mentors. Maybe we are not encouraging them to take a chance on a job that seems ‘impossible.’ Although I wonder if she’s thinking about how possible it will be to have a career as an anchorwoman given the few jobs there are in that field and the fact that fewer people are watching news on TV. That might be more of an impossiblity then if she went after the title ‘Madam President.’

  2. May 7, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    I’m dissappointed in her negativity, too, Liz, but she’s just one person. A poll of two hundred or more young women will give us a better idea of the mindset of young women. Stay tuned.

  3. May 7, 2010 at 11:36 pm

    Yes, I too am surprised and applaud your idea to launch that poll. With the poor performance of politicians overall and the declining regard paid to that career path, I wonder whether women are adopting disdain for the arena. Women have struggled for so long to gain regard for their capabilities across the board. Perhaps political pursuits just don’t cut it when they can get more validation in business, education, medicine, etc. An interesting circumstance…glad you’re on it!

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