Abstract for 2008 Honors Colloquium

Lauren Garrett

Government

"Deconstructing the Gender Card: An Examination of Femininity Performance in US Elections"

My thesis explores the use of strategic essentialism in US electoral politics, focusing on female senatorial and gubernatorial candidates from 2000 to 2006. Using advertising data and case studies I will examine in which situations female candidates for public office choose to emphasize feminine traits and qualities and determine whether gender performance is most affected by the issue area being discussed, the audience, or constant factors such as the candidate's region, opponent, background, and office being sought.