Research Students

Joanna RichardsPhD Candidate



Centre for Change Governance


Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis

Research Interests

Gender; leadership; authority; discourse; political philosophy; feminist theory; Butler; Irigaray.


"Modern Marie-Antoinettes: Gender, Political Leadership, and Blame Attribution"


Political women have a long history of being blamed for events beyond their control. The politics of blame is hostile, convoluted, and dubious, however it is also an essential component of a functioning democracy. In order for citizens to influence their government they require not only accurate detailing on the actions of politicians but also the ability to assign blame and credit for these activities. That said, if blame is disproportionately and inaccurately credited to female politicians, it will have negative ramifications for female advancement in government. A large body of research has inferred that when women ‘fail’ given their contextually recent entrance onto the leadership stage, it helps to foster a stereotype that women are incapable of performing in such a capacity. Given the importance of accountability to the democratic process, and the increasing number of women entering politics, this research is extremely topical and necessary. This study will conduct a thematic analysis the treatment and reception of recent female heads of state. Theoretically, this study will provide a new matrix for the assessment of gendered blame, drawing on legal research to assist in the creation of a suitable tool for political analysis.


Assoc Prof Mary Walsh, Adj Prof Virginia Haussegger and Dr Brendan McCaffrie


While completing her degree in International Relations at the ANU, she spent a semester at the University of Nizwa in Oman, where she researched the complex experience of modern Middle Eastern women. This was followed by a scholarship to Harvard University to attend a fine arts conservatory, where she first discovered the power of discourse, and the value of the speech floor. In 2015, Joanna was the winner of the ACT Telstra’s Young Business Woman of the Year for her work in an Australian start-up company. Her treatment as a woman in the male dominated start-up world heightened her interest in feminist research. Joanna recently came into the public eye following a Radio National interview on her research for her honours thesis: Let Her Finish. After receiving First Class Honours for her thesis, she joined the Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis to start research on gendered research and blame attribution.


  • Bachelor of International Relations (ANU)
  • Bachelor of Philosophy - First Class Honours (UC)


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