CSU’s Dr. Anderson wins award for book about women as presidential candidates

Hannah Ditzenberger

The National Communication Association named “Woman President,” a book coauthored by Colorado State University’s communications professor Dr. Karrin Anderson, the top book of 2014.

Anderson and fellow writer Kristina Sheeler, a professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, were also awarded the outstanding book award from the Organization of Communication, Language and Gender. The authors, and old friends, researched the cultural factors that influence the success of female presidential candidates.

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Dr. Karrin Anderson holds her book, Woman President, in her office. (Photo Credits: Hannah Ditzenberger)
Dr. Karrin Anderson holds her book, “Woman President,” in her office. (Photo Credits: Hannah Ditzenberger)

“Even though women have been running for president for 100 years, each one is framed as a trailblazer, doing it for the first time,” Anderson said.

The women examined the history of female presidential candidates, and if society views feminine characteristics as contradictory to the role of president.

“We wondered what it is in our culture that impedes women from being viewed as credible presidential candidates,” Anderson said.

The majority of the book focuses on Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton in the 2008 elections. Anderson discussed how “Saturday Night Live” skits, the sexualization of Palin as a “MILF” and other superficial media coverage influenced society’s portrayal of the women as frivolous politicians.

Lauren Newell, a senior studying biomedical and mechanical engineering, agrees with Anderson’s findings, saying that the media treats women differently from men.

“Newscasters act like women are not more gentle, but are more fragile than the male candidates,” Newell said.

However, junior mathematics major Collins Riverson said he believes that Americans do not base their votes on the media’s depiction of candidates.

“I don’t feel like a serious candidate for president will be affected at all by being sexualized,” Riverson said. “You see a lot of things come up with different candidates — a lot of ridiculous stuff that doesn’t affect them.”

Anderson and Sheeler are pleased with the attention their book has received.

“We were thrilled, obviously,” Anderson said. “One thing that I was really happy about is that it’s a sign that people care about gender in the presidential elections. This topic is moving into the mainstream of academic discussion.”

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Collegian Diversity Beat Reporter Hannah Ditzenberger can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter at @h_ditzenberger.