New Research Aims to Develop Insights on Violence Against Women Leaders

The Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative is launching four research projects to investigate violence against women mayors in the United States. The Initiative’s mission is to equip mayors and senior city officials to tackle complex challenges and serve city residents. This research will fill a major gap in knowledge about the often-challenging conditions under which they do this work.

Women in local elective offices in the U.S. are targeted with threats and harassment 3.4 times more than men, according to data from the Bridging Divides Initiative at Princeton University. To document and understand this violence, a group of scholars will pursue original research to shed new light on the nature and extent of the problem, the conditions and factors fueling it, the impact of the problem on aspirants to public office, and, ultimately, the interventions that can mitigate or reduce this violence.


Selected projects’ working titles and research leads are:

“An Intersectional Analysis of Violence Against Women Mayors”

  • Nadia Brown, Professor of Government, director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program and affiliate in the African American Studies Program at Georgetown University
  • Paru Shah, Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University and senior scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics
Nadia Brown
Paru Shah


“Politics Under Fire: Women Mayors’ Strategies Against Political Violence”

  • Justin de Benedictis-Kessner, Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School
  • Yanilda González, Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School
Justin de Benedictis-Kessner
Yanilda González


“Representation at Risk: Examining the Prevalence and Consequences of Violence against Women of Color Politicians in the United States”

  • Nazita Lajevardi, Associate Professor of Political Science at Michigan State University
  • Sandra Håkansson, political science researcher at Uppsala University
Nazita Lajevardi
Sandra Håkansson


“Response to Violence Against Women Mayors in the United States”

  • Sofia Collignon, Senior Lecturer in Comparative Politics at Queen Mary, University of London
  • Rebekah Herrick, Professor of Political Science at Oklahoma State University
  • Sue Thomas, Senior Research Scientist at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation
Sofia Collignon
Rebekah Herrick


The research findings will be disseminated via academic journal publications, practitioner-oriented action insights, and in-person and online convenings.

For inquiries, please contact the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative research team at

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