During the past decade, racial/ethnic minority women have made significant strides in U.S. politics, comprising large portions of their respective minority delegations both in Congress and in state legislatures. This trend has been particularly evident in the growing political presence of Latinas, yet scholars have offered no clear explanations for this electoral phenomenon--until now.
In The Latina Advantage, Christina E. Bejarano draws on national public opinion datasets and a close examination of state legislative candidates in Texas and California to demonstrate the new power of the political intersection between race and gender. Underscoring the fact that racial/ethnic minority women form a greater share of minority representatives than do white women among white elected officials, Bejarano provides empirical evidence to substantiate previous theoretical predictions of the strategic advantage in the intersectionality of gender and ethnicity in Latinas. Her evidence indicates that two factors provide the basis for the advantage: increasingly qualified candidates and the softening of perceived racial threat, leading minority female candidates to encounter fewer disadvantages than their male counterparts.
Overturning the findings of classic literature that reinforce stereotypes and describe minority female political candidates as being at a compounded electoral disadvantage, Bejarano brings a crucial new perspective to dialogues about the rapidly shifting face of America's electorate.