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Political science professor named first Harriet E. Lyon Professor in women’s and gender studies

MORGANTOWN — Erin Cassese, an associate professor of political science at WVU, has been named the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences’ first Harriet E. Lyon Professor in Women’s and Gender Studies.

The unique professorship recognizes the interdisciplinary role of women’s and gender studies on the WVU campus. It is designed to support the dissemination of knowledge sensitive to gender and places women’s concerns, ideas, perspectives and interests at the center of the scholarly and teaching enterprise.

“We are thrilled to be joined by such a prolific and respected researcher and teacher,” said Cari Carpenter, interim director of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies. “(Cassese) promises to bring new energy to the Center with her timely, important work on feminist perspectives of the American political system.”

In this role, Cassese will bring a novel disciplinary perspective to the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies while teaching and conducting research as an integral member of the Center.

“The Lyon Professorship is an exciting opportunity to build new relationships on campus and to promote further inquiry into the political implications of gender. I hope to start new conversations and build new relationship among people working toward common goals on campus,” Cassese said. “The professorship will enable me to further my scholarship on women as voters and candidates in American elections and to build new relationships with campus partners interested in issues of gender equity.”

Cassese’s research explores the intersection of gender, race and class in American politics. The professorship will support her ongoing research on women as voters, including a project about support for President Donald Trump among white women voters. It will also support her work on the role of gender in negative campaigning and allow her to start a new project about the online harassment of women in political life.

Cassese’s research has appeared in Politics and Gender, Sex Roles, Legislative Studies Quarterly and The Journal of Politics. Her article “American Party Women” was selected as the best paper published in Political Research Quarterly in 2017.

“Cassese’s research and its ongoing focus on politics, gender and intersectionality make her one of the most important gender scholars in American political science today,” said John Kilwein, interim chair of the Department of Political Science. “I can think of no better individual to fill the Harriet E. Lyon Professorship in Women’s and Gender Studies.”

Cassese is planning three major events as part of her new role. This fall, she will give a public talk about the gender outlook for the 2018 election cycle and her work with Gender Watch 2018. In 2019, she will be organizing an interactive workshop on early childhood political socialization with Angela Bos from the College of Wooster. She is also partnering with Ready to Run to design an interactive event aimed at cultivating political ambition in college-aged women.

The professorship is named in honor of the first woman to graduate from WVU, Harriet E. Lyon. It was endowed in honor of Judith Gold Stitzel.