By Caroline Ahearn, News Editor
On Thursday, September 28, Caitlin Daniels, a member of the class of 2018 and winner of the Maurizio Vannicelli Washington Semester Program Prize, presented a public lecture in Rehm Library on her thesis entitled, “Gender, Elections, and How Women Win (Or Don’t).”
The Vannicelli Prize, named in honor of the late Holy Cross political science professor and Washington Semester director, Maurizio Vannicelli, is awarded each semester for the best research paper produced during the Washington Semester Program. Daniels, a political science major with a concentration in gender, sexuality, and women’s studies, participated in the Washington Semester Program during the fall of 2016 and worked as a research intern at EMILY’s List, an organization that supports and funds pro-choice democratic women for electoral office.
Between the research she was doing at EMILY’s List, which included doing self and opposition research, tracking candidate positions, and compiling campaign finance histories for candidates endorsed by EMILY’s List and their opponents and being in D.C. leading up to and immediately following Hillary Clinton’s unexpected defeat in the 2016 presidential election, Daniels said that the topic of gender and elections for her thesis “came very naturally.”
Her thesis and lecture sought to address why the increase of women elected to public office has been much slower in comparison to other fields, and what strategies could be used to get more women elected on the local, state, and national level in the future. She addressed the structural and institutional barriers that face women, as well as the aspects that have contributed to getting more women elected to office.
“I was surrounded by people trying to execute EMILY’s List’s mission of electing more pro-choice, Democratic, women to Congress and I was really interested in examining further why the United States has such a significant gender disparity in Congress,” said Daniels. “Aside from surface reasons I already knew, I wanted to understand the more concrete, structural barriers that disproportionately affect women, which I was able to accomplish in my thesis. I had perfect timing in writing this thesis working at EMILY’s List in the midst of Hillary Clinton’s historic election run.”
“The opportunity to live and work in Washington D.C. in an election year was something that I will never forget. I loved my experience working at EMILY’s List and I feel so grateful I got to intern there in the midst of a historic election,” she said. “Not only getting to be a small part of Hillary Clinton’s Presidential run, but also getting to be involved in the campaigns of so many amazing women was an incredible experience for me. Writing my thesis about a topic I care so deeply about fit in with my internship experience so well and I can’t imagine being anywhere else last fall.”
In addition to presenting this lecture, Daniels’ name will also appear on a plaque with previous Vannicelli Prize winners, and she will receive a book award at commencement in the spring.
Photo courtesy of Holy Cross.