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Florida State University

FSU experts available to comment on first female vice president of the United States

8-Dec-2020 5:25 PM EST, by Florida State University

By: Bill Wellock | Published:

When she is sworn in next month, Kamala Harris will become the first woman to serve as vice president of the United States.

Harris has a long political career, having served as district attorney of San Francisco, attorney general of California and a U.S. senator before this position.

Florida State University faculty members are available to speak about the history of women in politics and offer context to coverage of this historic first.

Robin Goodman, professor, Department of English

Goodman studies feminist theory as a critique of neoliberal ideologies. Her recent work includes editing “The Bloomsbury Handbook of 21st-Century Feminist Theory.”

“Feminists have something to celebrate in the first female vice president of the United States. It was hard not to feel proud as she gave her victory speech in the white suit of the suffrage movement, declaring her indebtedness to generations of women before her and to activists now and inviting girls to follow her lead. I look forward to Kamala Harris’ time in office to see how gender and feminism get redefined for our time in response to her leadership.”

Maxine Montgomery, professor, Department of English

Montgomery’s research involves an interrogation of the intersection between issues of race, gender and sexualities and vernacular culture. She is the chair of the 2020-2021 President’s Task Force on Anti-Racism, Equity and Inclusion at FSU.

“The election of Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris marks a historic moment for women, especially women of color, to have the first Black and South Asian woman as vice president-elect. Black and Latinx women mobilized nationwide in grassroots efforts to ensure the election of Biden and Harris and in ways that point to a powerful intersectional coalition that is shifting the 21st-century political landscape. Harris’ remarks upon her acceptance of the vice presidency — ‘While I may be the first (female vice president), I won’t be the last,’ speak to the transformative implications of women’s collaborative efforts in advancing voting rights, political engagement and the advocacy essential to the future for women in public office locally, statewide and nationally.”

Deana Rohlinger, professor of sociology, College of Social Sciences and Public Policy

Rohlinger’s research focuses on mass media, political participation and politics in America.

“The election of Kamala Harris as vice president of the United States represents an historic moment for women’s achievements. Having a woman of color in the second-highest political office sends a powerful message about women’s capacities as leaders. Unfortunately, women’s gains are often met with some degree of political backlash. This is already happening around Harris’ election, particularly among far-right groups.”

Carol Weissert, LeRoy Collins Eminent Scholar and Professor of Political Science

Weissert’s research into American institutions and federalism includes work on the impact of female elected officials.

“As we end the year celebrating 100 years since ratification of the 19th Amendment, it is appropriate to recognize the importance of a woman of color as presumptive vice president of the United States. Women in office continue to lag the proportion of women in the country, but having a woman ‘at the top of the ticket’ is symbolically and substantively meaningful.”

Benjamin Dowd-Arrow, visiting assistant professor, Public Health Program, College of Social Sciences and Public Policy

Dowd-Arrow’s research examines the mechanisms of social inequality with his primary focus on outcomes related to physical and mental health. Most of his current research focuses on firearms, politics and personal well-being.

“The 2020 election will be remembered as one of the most important elections in history due in no small part to the election of Kamala Harris to the second-highest office in the United States. Research suggests that vice president-elect Harris’ critics will vilify her due to her gender by framing her as being weak if she is too feminine or heartless if she is too aggressive. However, even though female politicians are held to an impossible double standard, the election of Kamala Harris is a victory for women everywhere. For women of all ages across the country, Harris represents the shattering of yet another glass ceiling and a symbol of hope to every woman who has ever dared to dream that they, too, can one day be president.”

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