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Contested Transformation: Race, Gender, and Political Leadership in 21st Century America, Carol Hardy-Fanta, Pei-te Lien and Dianne Pinderhughes

Reviewed by Heather Silber Mohamed

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Carol Hardy-Fanta and colleagues provide the most comprehensive examination to date of elected leaders of color in this veritable encyclopedia of data. The book presents the results of their Gender and Multicultural Leadership project, which includes a national database of minority elected officials and a telephone survey of more than 1,350 state and local officials. They present a comparative perspective on leaders of color, examining similarities and differences by race, gender, and “race*gender”—a phrase they coin to emphasize the multiplicative effects of identities, building on the research paradigm of intersectionality.

The authors begin by mapping the leadership terrain of elected officials of color, demonstrating striking differences as to where African American, Latino, and Asian American officeholders serve. They also explore the diversity within local politics, including the type of office held and the varying size and geography of local areas. They emphasize that the rapid growth of minority officeholders at the local level has not occurred naturally but rather represents an ongoing struggle for political inclusion. As the second chapter explains, reliably assessing this change is difficult because of a range of logistical and measurement challenges. Indeed, their discussion of the methodological difficulties associated with studyi

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