Christina Wolbrecht

April 08, 2022

Morton-Kenney lecture to examine misperceptions that surround women voters

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — A discussion on the persistent myths that surround women voters will highlight the Morton-Kenney Public Affairs Lecture on Wednesday, April 13, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Christina Wolbrecht, a professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame, will present “Rhetoric and Reality: A Century of Votes for Women” at 7 p.m. in the Student Center Auditorium (new location). The lecture is presented by the political science program in the College of Liberal Arts and the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

Admission is free, and the lecture is open to the public. There will be time for Q&A at the end of the presentation. The lecture will also be available via livestream.

Wolbrecht, the director of the Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy and co-editor of the journal “Politics & Gender,” has written extensively on women’s suffrage. She is co-author of “A Century of Votes for Women: American Elections Since Suffrage,” which Wolbrecht said “examines both how women voted and how observers explained how women voted across the past 10 decades since the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920.”

The discussion, rescheduled from March 2020, “highlight the persistent disconnect between how journalists describe and politicians appeal to women voters, and what we actually know about why and how women vote,” Wolbrecht said.

“Women are often expected to vote as women, ignoring the fact that women, like men, have multiple identities and interests,” she said. “Longstanding stereotypes about women — that they are uninterested in politics, that they vote based on so-called women's issues — continue to shape our perceptions of women voters to this day.”

J. Tobin Grant, professor and political science chair, noted that the United States recently celebrated the centennial of 19th Amendment assuring women the constitutional right to vote.

“Professor Wolbrecht is the leading figure in the study of how women today and in the past have exercised this right. Anyone who cares about American democracy will appreciate hearing her discuss her findings,” he said.

The lecture series occurs in the spring and fall of each year. The late Jerome Mileur, originally from Murphysboro, was a professor emeritus in political science at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and retired in 2004 after a 37-year teaching career there.

Mileur established the series in 1995 in honor of two of his political science professors — Ward Morton and David Kenney — who inspired him as a student. Mileur, who died in 2017, earned his bachelor’s degree in speech communication in 1955 and a doctorate in government in 1971, both from SIU Carbondale.