All American politicians face the glare of media coverage, but for women seeking or holding high public office, the scrutiny by newspapers and television can be both withering and damaging - a fact that has changed little over the decades despite the emergence of more women in politics and more women in the news media. Maria Braden's pioneering study takes a sweeping look at how the media have influenced - and skewed - public perceptions of women seeking goverrships and national office over the past eighty years, from Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to the U.S. House, through the disastrous vice presidential bid of Geraldine Ferraro. Throughout the decades, Braden traces a persistent double standard in media coverage of women's political campaigns. Her personal interviews with recent women politicians - including Margaret Chase Smith, Bella Abzug, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Nancy Kassebaum, and Ann Richards - reveal their agonizing struggles to get across to the public the message that they are competent candidates capable of holding high office and shaping our nation's course.
Maria Braden, professor of journalism at the University of Kentucky, is the author of She Said What? Interviews with Women Newspaper Columnists.