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Talking Politics with Katherine Adam


By Sean Smith | Chronicle Editor

Published: Mar. 3, 2011

Three years ago, Katherine Adam ’07 officially became an author, when she and Sociology Professor Charles Derber published The New Feminized Majority: How Democrats Can Change America with Women's Values, based on her senior thesis — a rare feat for an undergraduate project.

On March 15, Adam will return to campus to discuss her book and assess the American political climate. The event, free and open to the public, takes place at 5 p.m. in Fulton 230.

Adam recently checked in with Chronicle to give an update on her work.

Q: Where are you nowadays and what are you doing?

Adam: I work in political messaging and strategic communications. I spent the last election cycle consulting on various political campaigns around New England, helping candidates with speech writing, debate preparation, and new media strategy. Now I serve as communications director for Massachusetts State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz. She represents much of Boston, from Jamaica Plain and parts of Dorchester to the South End and Beacon Hill.

Q: Obviously, not every person publishes a book so soon after graduating college. What impact has that achievement had on you, personally and professionally?

Adam: Writing the book was a transformative experience in so many ways. It sharpened my critical thinking skills and argumentative processes, and, most important, gave me the confidence to stand up for my ideas. I'll never be able to thank Professor Derber enough for his devotion to this project — he completely changed the course of my life. Professionally, the book motivated me to pursue a career based on writing. I use the skills I learned writing the book every day in my current job. I don't know what I'll be doing in 20 years, but I know I'll be writing.

Q: In the book, you talked about a “feminized majority” — one that embraces values such as empathy, cooperation, and a preference for non-violent solutions to conflicts — as a potential major force in American politics. But it seems the big story since 2008 is the ramping up of partisan and ideological discord across the US. Is there really a feminized majority, and can it make a difference in the political arena?

Adam: This is a really good question. I think the current discord is largely the product of an incredibly effective campaign to harness the anger ordinary people are feeling about what's been happening in America since the 1970s — the deepening inequality gap, the erosion of worker rights, the increasingly cozy relationship between corporate interests and government — and swing it back against President Obama.

There's no doubt that our country is in a tough spot. The good news, I suppose, is that the current environment of vitriol is unsustainable. So the question becomes: Where do we go from here? The feminized majority absolutely still exists. Whether it becomes a paradigm for governance sooner rather than later depends on if President Obama exhibits the leadership necessary to redirect the current national anger into a positive force for change.

Q: How often do you get to return to BC?

Adam: Not as often as I'd like! One of my favorite spots on campus is the block of soundproof practice rooms in the Music Department in Lyons. I studied music along with sociology, and I miss having access to a piano. And I'm definitely going to get a Hillside sandwich when I visit this time.

Q: Do you have any new books or other publications in the works?

Adam: At this point, my job with the Senator is keeping me really busy, but I'd like to get back into political commentary at some point. Maybe I'll write The New and Improved Feminized Majority in a couple years.