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Gender on The Ballot: New Project to Examine the Role of Gender in 2020 Elections

Gender on the Ballot

As the conversation and culture around running for office in the United States continue to evolve, the American University School of Public Affairs' Women & Politics Institute and the Barbara Lee Family Foundation (BLFF) are proud to announce the launch of Gender on the Ballot, a new non-partisan project to examine and contextualize gender dynamics in the 2020 elections. The project will include the presidential field, as well as gubernatorial and congressional races.

“As WPI aims to close the gender gap in politics, we believe education and awareness are key. The more we can all learn about how women candidates are received in the political arena, the sooner we can achieve gender parity in political leadership,” said Betsy Fischer Martin, Executive Director of the Women & Politics Institute. “WPI is thrilled to partner with BLFF to provide a closer examination on several fronts this election season.”

“Although the long race to 2020 is just getting started, it already features a historic and diverse slate of candidates, including an unprecedented number of highly qualified women,” said Barbara Lee, President and Founder of the Barbara Lee Family Foundation. “2020 marks the centennial of women’s suffrage; could it also be the year Americans make history by electing the first woman president? Along with our esteemed partners at American University’s Women & Politics Institute, we will be following along.

Applying years of research and expertise from both organizations, as well as insights from guest contributors, Gender on the Ballot will explore both the subtle and overt ways gender shapes political decision making, media coverage, and campaigning. Analyses will drill down beyond the headlines and dive deep into the complicated role gender plays in politics, including a look at how it is rewarded, punished, and policed.

The new project will offer a new website ( with resources for everyone from casual observers to political pundits, including accessible analysis and commentary from academic scholars, political strategists, and practitioners in the field; relevant research summaries and reports; and polling data to frame the conversation about gender in the 2020 election cycle.

Regular contributors to Gender on the Ballot include:

  • Barbara Lee, President and Founder, The Barbara Lee Family Foundation
  • Nicole Carlsburg, Executive Director, The Barbara Lee Family Foundation
  • Amanda Hunter, Research and Communications Director, The Barbara Lee Family Foundation
  • Betsy Fischer Martin, Executive Director, Women & Politics Institute and Executive in Residence, School of Public Affairs
  • Vicky Wilkins, Dean, American University School of Public Affairs
  • Karen O’Connor, Jonathan N. Helfat Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Founder and Director Emerita, Women & Politics Institute

During the project, Gender on the Ballot will release timely survey data, including an upcoming July pulse poll on what “electability” means to voters. Amy Levin, partner at Benenson Strategy Group, will lead the research.

The Barbara Lee Family Foundation works to advance women’s equality and representation in American politics through political research, strategic partnerships, and grants and endowments. The Foundation’s work is guided by its core belief that women’s voices strengthen our democracy and enrich our culture.

The mission of SPA’s Women & Politics Institute is to close the gender gap in political leadership. We provide young women with academic and practical training that encourages them to become involved in the political process and facilitates research by faculty and students that enhances our understanding of the challenges and opportunities women face in the political arena.