Next week, Senator Kamala Harris will be sworn in as the vice president of the United States, becoming the first woman, as well as the first woman of color, to hold the office. In addition, the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden will likely have a record number of women serving in Cabinet-level positions, based on nominations thus far to Cabinet posts and offices that have been deemed Cabinet-level historically. Experts from the Center for American Women and Politics, a unit of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University, are available to provide context to this historic moment.
- Debbie Walsh, Director. Walsh has worked at the Center since 1981, through the elections of 1984 and 2008 that featured the only previous women major-party vice presidential nominees. She became CAWP’s director in 2001, and, in this role, she oversees the Center’s multi-faceted research, analysis, and leadership programming.
- Jean Sinzdak, Associate Director. Sinzdak manages the Center’s campaign-training program, Ready to Run®, as well as its national network of partner programs. She is also the project director for CAWP’s national education and awareness campaign to make women’s public leadership visible to young people, Teach a Girl to Lead®.
- Kelly Dittmar, Director of Research and CAWP Scholar. Dittmar is the author of two books about women candidates and officeholders, and she manages CAWP’s research and analyses on gender in elections and officeholding. Her previous research has also analyzed gender and the American presidency.
- Kira Sanbonmatsu, Senior Scholar. Sanbonmatsu’s most recent research focuses on women and campaign finance. She has written extensively about gender, race/ethnicity, parties, public opinion, and state politics.
- Kimberly Peeler-Allen, Visiting Practitioner. Peeler-Allen has been working at the intersection of race, gender, and politics for almost 20 years as an organizer, operative, and fundraiser. She is the co-founder of Higher Heights, a national organization devoted to building the political power of Black women as voters and elected officials.
For information about the history of women in the executive branch, see our fact sheets Women Presidential and Vice Presidential Candidates: A Selected List and Women Appointed to Presidential Cabinets.
The Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), a unit of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is nationally recognized as the leading source of scholarly research and current data about women’s political participation in the United States. Its mission is to promote greater knowledge and understanding about the role of women in American politics, enhance women’s influence in public life, and expand the diversity of women in politics and government. CAWP’s education and outreach programs translate research findings into action, addressing women’s under-representation in political leadership with effective, intersectional, and imaginative programs serving a variety of audiences. As the world has watched Americans considering female candidates for the nation’s highest offices, CAWP’s five decades of analyzing and interpreting women’s participation in American politics have provided a foundation and context for the discussion.