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Laura Anne van Assendelft

Professor of Political Science, Mary Baldwin University

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About Laura

Van Assendelft’s research focuses on women and politics, state and local politics, public policy, and teaching political science. Overarching themes in van Assendelft’s writings include the motives and experiences of women as political candidates, the impact of divided government on policymaking, the status of women in political science, and teaching pedagogy, including simulations, and civic engagement. Van Assendelft serves on the APSA Presidential Task Force on Women’s Advancement in Political Science.


Is Academia Inclusive? Voices from Mid-Career


"Entry Level Politics? Women as Candidates and Elected Officials at the Local Level" in Women and Elective Office: Past, Present, and Future, edited by Sue Thomas and Clyde Wilcox (Oxford University Press, 2014), 199-215.

Uses a survey of female local elected officials in Southwest Virginia. Examines the motivations and experiences of women as candidates and elected officials at the local level, focusing on styles of leadership and levels of progressive ambition.

"Getting on the Board: The Presence of Women in Political Science Journal Editorial Positions" (with Mary Stegmaier). PS: Political Science & Politics 44, no. 4 (October 2011): 799-804.

Evaluates the presence of women as editors and members of editorial boards in political science. The paper explores the gate keeping and mentoring roles that editors provide.

Women, Politics, and American Society (with Nancy McGlen, Karen O'Connor, and Wendy Gunther-Canada) (Addison, 2011).

Explores the historical and contemporary status of women in political office, public policy, and in society (including roles in the family).

"Remembering the ‘Life’ in Academic Life Finding a Balance between Work and Personal Responsibilities in the Academy" (with Martha Ackelsberg, Gayle Binion, Georgia Duerst-Lahti, Jane Junn, and Bang Soon-Yoon). PS: Political Science & Politics 37, no. 4 (2004): 879-883.

Examines barriers to women in academic life, a product of the APSA Committee on the Status of Women.

"Political Science in a Different Voice: Women Faculty Perspectives on the Status of Women in Political Science Departments in the South" (with Wendy Gunther-Canada, Julie Dolan, Babara Palmer, and Michele Swers). PS: Political Science & Politics 36, no. 2 (2003): 311-315.

Includes original survey data on the experiences of women in political science in the South, a product of  the Southern Political Science Association Committee on the Status of Women.

"First Ladies in the States: The Motivations and Political Resources of Governors' Spouses" (with Bernadette Nye). Women & Politics 19, no. 3 (1998): 81-109.

Addresses the dearth of literature on first ladies within political science. Provides a framework for evaluation of their political influence (both formal and informal, historical and contemporary).