The girls’ dream matchup

Author: John Monczunski

Hillary Rodham Clinton versus Condoleezza Rice ’75M.A. Would that race for president excite your political imagination? A study by two Notre Dame political scientists suggests that such a match-up between the Democratic senator from New York and the Republican secretary of state likely would be the dream race for teenage girls in the United States.

“A highly visible woman in the future—perhaps even as the top of a major party presidential ticket—has the potential to generate significant interest in political activity [among adolescent girls],” David Campbell and Christina Wolbrecht wrote recently in The Journal of Politics.

The study by Campbell, an assistant professor of political science, and Wolbrecht, the Packey J. Dee associate professor of political science, found a link between prominence in news coverage of female politicians and the likelihood that teenage girls would become politically active.

The researchers found that adolescent girls’ interest in politics is further heightened when a parent or other adult family member engages them in political discussion. “Visible female candidates trigger conversations about politics between parents and their adolescent daughters, familiarizing girls with the political world and leading them to envision themselves as participants in politics,” Campbell and Wolbrecht wrote.