I have this wonderful routine. When I start to wax nostalgic for the wonders of grad school, I order a textbook or graduate level book to read. Then, the next time I get the urge, I read two more pages of one of the books and realize this isn’t just coffee drinking and talking about ideas. This is hard.
During one of my recent moments I ordered Women, Power and Politics by Sylvia Bashevkin. I was shocked when I arrived that it was so small, but I thought this was a good sign that this book might be different from the others gathering dust.
I opened the first page and started reading the introduction. It sounded familiar, but this book was written since I went to grad school. I kept reading. Finally I realized that it sounded familiar because it was on the same topic as my Masters thesis. In fact, she raised some of the same questions I did – what words are used to describe female political candidates, versus those used to describe male candidate.
At first it was a little creepy. Here were the same questions, but raised by one of the top political scientists in Canada. Then I realized that it was incredibly cool. Then I realized it was written more than a decade after my thesis (egads!) and nothing has changed. Female candidates face the same obstacles.
There were certainly issues with the book (her thesis seems to rise and fall throughout the book) and I didn’t agree with all of her recommendations, but that seems minor in comparison to the overall need for the book.
In the end it was pretty exciting that a question that captivated a young grad student years ago also captured the attention of one of the country’s top political scientists (and one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada, according to Maclean’s Magazine). Made me proud.