The 2019 ECPR Joni Lovenduski PhD Prize in Gender and Politics has for the first time been awarded jointly, to Cherry Miller, University of Tampere and Orlanda (Orly) Siow, University College London.
Much in the spirit of Joni Lovenduski’s pioneering research on the representation of women in politics and public life, our prize committee found these two dissertations exceptional and worthy of the 2019 prize.
The Committee considered Cherry Miller’s PhD thesis Beneath the Spectacle: Gendering the Everyday in the British House of Commons to be an innovative piece of work that combines political science and ethnographic research to study how gendered norms are reproduced every day in the House of Commons. By pushing the boundaries of existing knowledge about daily informal gendered performative norms and practices in parliaments, the committee judged that her thesis advances theories of feminist institutionalism and political representation, and significantly contributes to gender and politics scholarly debates.
The study of informal gendered norms and practices of power and resistance against gender equality in institutional contexts demands that researchers develop new theoretical and methodological tools, such as those developed in this interdisciplinary thesis. Cherry’s work shows not only capacity to innovate but also reflexivity about theoretical, epistemological, and methodological issues. The parliamentary ethnography, based on primary research of participant observation and semi-structured interviews, allows her to collect empirical data about the daily performativity of gender that is repeated over time in the House of Commons.
Cherry’s thesis also proposes solutions for undoing the patterns of gendered working practices or entry points for change, reflecting on the difficulties for putting them in practice.
Orly Siow’s PhD thesis The effects of candidate race and gender on press coverage of political campaigns: an intersectional analysis argues that minority female candidates occupy a paradoxical position of hypervisibility and invisibility (which can occur simultaneously) in the US-American and British national press. The quality and quantity of media coverage received by candidates for political office is centrally shaped by gender and race, in a complex and sometimes surprising dynamic.
The committee considered Orly’s argument theoretically rich in its applicability to other marginalised groups that sit at the intersection of visibility and invisibility, and groundbreaking in its methods of analysis around intersectionality.
Her thesis applies a sophisticated mixed-method research design—using statistical techniques around content analysis, as well as qualitative techniques to tease out nuance in the general patterns uncovered—to the question of political intersectionality; with great potential for inspiring future research. In doing so, it brings intersectionality work forcefully into dialogue with the wider field of the political science discipline, with an innovative substantive and methodological application that may speak to scholars who have traditionally shied away from pressing, problem-driven questions around intersectional analysis.
Isabelle Engeli (Chair) University of Exeter
Emanuela Lombardo Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Phillip Ayoub Drexel University
Sabine Saurugger University of Grenoble
Cherry and Orly will be presented with their Prize at this year's European Conference on Politics & Gender in Amsterdam
Cherry Miller studied at the University of Birmingham, where she read for her BA in Political Science and an MA in Social Research; and the University of Leeds, where she read for an MA in Politics and Parliamentary Studies, involving a placement with a Shadow Minister. Her ESRC 1+3 doctoral research, conducted in POLSIS at the University of Birmingham, explored ethnographically the everyday reproduction of gender in the ‘working worlds’ of the UK House of Commons.
Cherry started as a Postdoctoral Researcher and ethnographer in August 2018 in the European Research Council-funded EUGENDEM project: Gender, Party Politics and Democracy in Europe: A study of the European Parliament’s Political Groups, in Gender Studies at the University of Tampere. In this project, she is applying her ethnographic and parliamentary skills and knowledge to analyse the operation of gender in the (in)formal rules and practices of the political groupings of the European Parliament. She has a book contract with Palgrave Macmillan to publish her monograph of her doctoral research, titled: Gendering the Everyday in the House of Commons: Beneath the Spectacle.
Orly holds an MA in Gender Studies and a PhD in Political Science, both from University College London. Later in 2019 she will take up a lectureship in the Politics of Gender at Newcastle University. Prior to her academic career, she worked for a number of gender-focused NGOs and a frontbench politician.
Her PhD investigates the intersectional effects of race and gender on news coverage of political campaigns by minority women. A quantitative and qualitative content analysis of local US, and national US and British newspaper coverage of recent elections reveals that minority women occupy a paradoxical position of hypervisibility and invisibility in the US and UK national press: a few individuals are singled out for exceptional attention while most candidates from this group struggle to receive recognition. In the US local press, minority women receive less coverage than comparable white women, and less positive coverage than comparable candidates from all other groups. Although minority women’s race and gender is foregrounded more often than that of white women and minority men, many of the relevant news frames are surprisingly positive. However, there remains scepticism and hostility to progressive measures which have so often been necessary to improve the descriptive representation of marginalised groups
More broadly, Orly argues that by considering only the effects of a single axis of identity such as race or gender, research on women or minorities in politics may run the risk of making claims that obscure the experiences of all but the most privileged within each group. Therefore, as the empirical results of her study demonstrate, intersectionality continues to offer great promise to gender and politics scholars. According to Orly, it is essential that research on women is inclusive of those who are most marginalised and least represented. The diversification of women in politics internationally provides the opportunity and the imperative to consider how gender and race intersect in this context.
Keywords: Gender, Feminism