Year of Graduation


Document Type



Communication Studies

Directing Professor

Christopher Richter


This thesis examines the question of how gendered communication impacts the experiences of female officeholders within state legislatures in the United States. This research represents an under-researched area: the experiences of female officeholders while they are in office, as they conceptualize them. The researcher conducted 14 qualitative interviews with female officeholders from around the United States. The interviews were interpreted in terms of Anthony Giddens’ theory of Structuration. Three main categories emerged: male officeholders’ actions and use of Giddens’ resources, the gendering of political spaces by internal and external groups, and how female officeholders self-silence or alter their behavior in response to the aforementioned gendered communicative patterns at work around them. These findings have broad implications on the gendered nature of state legislatures in 2018.