I was sitting in my local bagel shop one Saturday morning eating breakfast while reading this book. I had just started the chapter “Are Cities More Congenial?”, looking at whether cities are more hospitable environments for female candidates, when a woman walking behind me asked “Are they?”. We talked for a moment and she asked if I was reading this for a class. I answered that I was reading it for fun. This prompted quite a long conversation. It turned out the woman was a local university professor.
Why is this significant? When you have weird interests you often feel quite alone in reading them (unless you find a community online). These types of books are meant to be read in an environment where the reader responses can be discussed. Most chapters left me with more questions than the answered. Randomly running into someone who knew this area of study well gave me the chance to discuss some of my thoughts. Perhaps just as important was the feeling walking away that I haven’t lost my ability to discuss this material at an academic level. My job involves a lot of paperwork and sometimes I feel that I need to give my brain a jolt every so often so that it remains active.
I recommend this book to anyone interested in the participation of women in politics and women’s representation in political office. However, I also recommend a good conversation with people of similar interests (and not just the same perspective).
So, thanks random professor picking up bagels for the chance to discuss this book. You helped me more than you know!