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Navigating Boundaries: The Rhetoric of Women Governors


Navigating Boundaries: The Rhetoric of Women Governors



Marshall, Mayhead, and their contributors explore the discourse women use to negotiate political boundaries. The analysis, based on the study of five governors—Nellie Tayloe Ross, Martha Layne Collins, Ann Richards, Barbara Roberts, and Christine Todd Whitman—illustrates that women bring issues of caring, empowerment, family, and inclusivity to the office. These issues contrast sharply with traditional male-centered ideologies and give renewed vigor to a revised moral point of view in contemporary politics.

The essays also demonstrate that women governors must still work within the traditional societal constructs for women. Yet, at the same time, they need to create new paradigms that redefine women's roles and exemplify that woman's place is in the private sphere and the public political arena. The work examines the common obstacles these women faced despite differences in era, political affiliation, geographic location, and ideologies. Simply by being elected, each woman operated within a public/private sphere duality she struggled to overcome. Each woman recognized that she needed to craft appropriate rhetorical strategies to succeed in office while not abandoning the unique values and perspectives she brought to the statehouse. The essays contend that women serving in the governorship resculpt the face of the office, restructure the political landscape, and redefine women's roles. The volume will be of particular value to students and scholars dealing with issues of public address and rhetorical criticism, women's communication, political communication, and women in politics.



Publication Date





Westport, Conn.


American Politics | Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication | Social Influence and Political Communication | Speech and Rhetorical Studies


Description and reviews courtesy of ABC-CLIO.

Subject Areas

Political oratory -- United States; Women governors -- United States

Author/Editor Bio

Molly A. Mayhead is Professor of Communication Studies at Western Oregon University.

Brenda DeVore Marshall is Professor of Theatre and Communication Arts at Linfield College. She holds a Ph.D. in Speech Communication and Theatre from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, an M.S. in Theatre and Speech Communication from North Texas State University, and a B.A. in Theatre and Music from the University of Denver.

Series Information

Praeger series in political communication


"Now Marshall and Mayhead have provided a needed examination of women's political rhetoric that will be useful in academic collections supporting rhetoric, speech, politics, political philosophy, women's studies, and government." - Choice

Navigating Boundaries: The Rhetoric of Women Governors