As Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden prepares to announce his vice presidential pick, who will be only the third woman VP nominee and fourth woman on a major-party presidential ballot, political scientist Lori Poloni-Staudinger is available to discuss the significance of this choice for women, for the country and for American politics.

Poloni-Staudinger, a professor in the Department of Politics and International Affairs at Northern Arizona University, is the author of the 2019 book “Why Don’t Women Rule the World? Understanding Women’s Civics and Political Choices.” She studies women in politics and how the gendered treatment of women in politics affects other women who are considering running for office or otherwise participating in politics, particularly the chilling effects of such treatment.

Expert: Lori Poloni-Staudinger, professor, Department of Politics and International Affairs

  • The Biden campaign is already on the defensive as sexist attacks have already begun against the suspected frontrunners.
  • Research shows that when women candidates are belittled or their credibility or electability is questioned, it dampens other women’s political ambitions. Gendered critiques, like calling a woman too strident, too ambitious or not other-oriented, are likely to appear among the media and pundits in the aftermath of the announcement.”
  • Biden’s VP pick is the presumed heir apparent to the White House. Biden stands a good chance of winning, and pundits think he may only serve one term. His VP very well could be president in four or eight years.
  • The vice presidency (and presidency) is one glass ceiling women have yet to break.
  • Research finds that when women run for political office, they are just as likely to win as men. But proportionally fewer women hold elected office, in part because fewer women run to begin with. Bolstering women’s willingness to run for office, then, is essential to achieving gender parity in government.
  • The VP pick will be debating Mike Pence, a political figure who is seen to be anti-feminist, thus setting up a symbolic showdown between patriarchy and feminism. 


Poloni-Staudinger has written five books, including “Why Don’t Women Rule the World?”, and authored more than 30 peer-reviewed articles, chapters and reports on women in leadership related to terrorism response, international alliances and American politics. She served in leadership of the Women’s Caucus for the Midwest Political Science Association, has held executive positions on nonprofit boards and was the Distinguished Fulbright Professor of International Relations at the Diplomatic Academy in Austria. Poloni-Staudinger has been quoted in multiple outlets discussing women in politics, most notably after the 2018 midterm elections. Learn more at her NAU webpage.