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Campus News
Your faculty and staff news since 1965
May 10, 2004
Volume 39, Number 15

Sierra to study elected officials

By Laurie Mellas Ramirez

UNM Political Science Professor Christine Sierra has launched a three-year study on the role of gender and race as it relates to elected officials in the United States.

The first of its kind, Sierra said, the study was funded by a $680,000 Ford Foundation grant in 2003. The project is a comprehensive examination of backgrounds, experiences and perspectives of America’s increasingly diverse elected leadership at local, state and national levels. The study will focus on African American, Hispanic and Asian American elected officials.

The study is timely given America’s demographic change and its impact on the country’s leadership ranks, she said. The 2000 United States Census points to an urgent need to understand the role of gender and race/ethnicity in today’s elected leaders and how diversified leadership is becoming incorporated into the governing structures of a nation projected to be “majority-minority” in the next fifty years, Sierra said.

Sierra will conduct the study “Gender and Multicultural Leadership: The Future of Governance,” with co-principal investigators Carol Hardy-Fanta, University of Massachusetts-Boston; Pei-te Lien, University of Utah; and Dianne M. Pinderhughes, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Sierra spent the fall semester as visiting professor at the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) at Eagleton Institute, Rutgers University, She will return for the month of June.

“The role women of color play in the exercise of representative government and democratic politics is a central concern in this study...their slow but unprecedented rise to state-level and federal office, including the U.S. Congress, signals their increasing prominence among America’s political leaders,” Sierra said.