Talking Politics with Pam

Upon finding that the Communication Department panel at La Salle University on gender and politics, two very important issues here at Her Campus, had been canceled, I decided to go right to the source. I interviewed Dr. Pamela Lannutti, a Communication professor that was scheduled to speak at the panel, about the importance of gender in politics and her career. The panel’s purpose was to investigate the unprecedented number of women running in the 2018 midterms, which resulted in a backlash against our President’s policies and comments toward women. Pam specifically planned to speak on transgender issues, an important but often ignored aspect of gender in politics.

She told me that the United States faces an interesting intersection in the 2018 midterms—the Trump administration’s narrowing of the legal definitions of male and female, but a higher-than-average number of openly trans people on the ballot across the country.

When asked why gender is a particularly important issue in the 2018 midterms, she offered this concise answer: “SCOTUS. SCOTUS. SCOTUS.” The Kavanaugh hearings and confirmation brought the issues of sexual assault and believing survivors to the forefront, just in time for midterms. Furthermore, when asked how young women can make their voices heard politically,

Pam told me she wishes there were more student political groups on campus, in order to give young people an opportunity to make their voices heard outside of voting.

I also asked Pam how her gender has affected her career. She explained that overall female professors have less positive teaching evaluations than males, and that female professors who don’t seem “nurturing and nice” receive lower scores than male professors who have the same teaching style and policies. In addition, although there is no hard evidence as salaries are private, she tells me there is a consensus among professors that female professors are paid less at La Salle. While Pam feels those are two direct effects of her gender on her career, she feels that others come from the “intersectionality of [her] identity as a female and a lesbian.” Finally, I asked Pam if she could offer any words of advice after her prolific career to young women who are just starting on their journeys. She told me to “remember to speak up for yourself and other women.”

How’s that for a new Her Campus motto?