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Rethinking Madam President: Are We Ready for a Woman in the White House?

Lori Cox Han and Caroline Heldman, editors
Rethinking Madam President: Are We Ready for a Woman in the White House?
ISBN: 978-1-58826-543-2
ISBN: 978-1-58826-519-7
2007/229 pages/LC: 2007003133

"Informative and insightful.... The authors provide a compelling appraisal of the barriers that a woman US presidential candidate must confront, and overcome, in order to win the nomination and election."—Sharon Z. Alter, William Rainey Harper College and Roosevelt University

"This is a significant contribution.... Offering concrete data and tools for evaluating how accessible the Oval Office is to women, Rethinking Madam President should find wide readership among scholars and frequent classroom adoption."—MaryAnne Borrelli, Connecticut College


From the news room  to pop culture, all signs suggest that the United States is finally ready for a woman in the White House. But is the vision of an imminent Madam President truly in line with today's political reality?  Rethinking Madam President offers a critical assessment of the inroads made by female candidates into the previously male bastion of electoral success, exploring whether they are at all relevant to the race for the presidency. The authors tackle a range of provocative issues: the conflation of the presidency with masculinity; media coverage focusing, even today, on the novelty of a female candidate; public support for women that often evaporates in the voting booth; and more. Although Madam President is not an impossibility, they conclude, it would be a mistake to ignore the very significant hurdles that women still face on the path to the Oval Office.


Lori Cox Han is professor of political science at Chapman University. Her publications include Women and American Politics and Governing from Center Stage. Caroline Heldman is assistant professor of political science at Occidental College.


  • Is the US Really Ready for a Woman President?—L.C. Han.
  • Cultural Barriers to a Female Presidency in the US—C. Heldman.
  • The Significance of Social and Institutional Expectations—S. Thomas and J.R. Schroedel.
  • Shaping Women's Chances: Stereotypes and the Media—G.S. Woodall and K.L. Fridkin.
  • Masculinity on the Campaign Trail—G. Duerst-Lahti.
  • Money and the Art and Science of Candidate Viability—V. Farrar-Myers.
  • Political Parties: Advancing a Masculine Ideal—M. Conroy.
  • Women as Executive Branch Leaders—K.M. Hult.
  • Leadership Challenges in National Security—M. Bose.
  • Conclusion: A Woman in the White House? Never Say Never—A. Gordon.