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School of Social and Political Science: Staff profiles


Meryl Kenny

Meryl Kenny
Dr Meryl Kenny
Lecturer in Gender and Politics
4.29 Chrystal Macmillan Building 15a George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
+44 (0)131 651 1332
Research Interests
Women and politics, gender and political institutions, Feminist institutionalism, political parties, Political recruitment, Political representation, Territorial Politics

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Meryl Kenny is Lecturer in Gender and Politics at the University of Edinburgh. She joined the subject area of Politics and International Relations in August 2015, having held previous positions at the University of Leicester and the University of New South Wales (Sydney, Australia). 

Meryl is an elected Trustee of the Political Studies Association (2015-present) and past convenor of the PSA Women and Politics Specialist Group (2013-2017). She currently chairs the PSA's Equality and Diversity Committee.

At Edinburgh, Meryl co-convenes the Gender Politics Research Group, which hosts the genderpol blog  (@genderpol on Twitter). She is also a member of the steering group of the cross-party Women5050 campaign for legal gender quotas in Scotland.

Meryl is Co-Director of the Feminism and Institutionalism International Network (FIIN), based at Edinburgh, and sits on the editorial boards of Political Studies Review and Scottish Affairs

Research Interests and Teaching

Meryl's research interests bridge the intersection of gender politics, party politics, territorial politics, and institutional approaches to the study of politics. Her current research focuses on two main areas: gender and political recruitment, and feminist institutional theory. Her book Gender and Political Recruitment (Palgrave 2013) provides a feminist institutionalist analysis of the political recruitment process in post-devolution Scotland. In 2014, she co-directed a workshop on ‘Beyond Supply and Demand: Gender and Political Recruitment in Comparative Perspective’ at the ECPR Joint Sessions (with Tània Verge, Universitat Pompeu Fabra), which resulted in a Critical Perspectives in Politics & Gender (2015) and a Special Issue in Government & Opposition (2016). She is also currently a CoI on the ESRC Seminar Series 'Feminizing Politics and Power in the UK: Access, Voice and Accountability' (2015-17), as well as CoI on the UGC-UKIERI grant 'Teaching Feminisms, Transforming Lives: Questions of Identity, Pedagogy and Violence in India and the UK'.

Meryl is also involved in collaborative research through the Feminism and Institutionalism International Network (FIIN), which aims to develop a distinctive approach to studying gender politics that combines insights from feminist and new institutional theory. She is co-editing a new book series on Feminist Institutionalist Perspectives with Rowman & Littlefield International (with Professor Fiona Mackay, Edinburgh and Dr. Elin Bjarnegard, Uppsala University).

In the academic year 2017/18, Meryl is teaching on:

  • Understanding Gender in the Contemporary World, Years 1 & 2 (Course Organiser)
  • International Cooperation in Europe and Beyond, Year 2 
  • British Politics: Beginning of the End?, Years 1 & 2
  • Contemporary Feminist Debates, Honours
  • The Global Politics of Sex and Gender, Honours 
  • Parliamentary Studies, Honours
  • Approaches to Politics and IR, Honours
  • Gender and Sexuality in Global Politics, PG

In 2015/16, Meryl's course SPS in Practice was awarded 'Best Course' at the EUSA Teaching Awards, and was also the Runner-Up for the Innovative Assessment Prize at the ceremony.

Meryl is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Current PhD Students

Leah McCabe (Social Policy): 'Gendering Change: The Impact of Women in Policy-Making Positions on Domestic Abuse Policy in the Scottish Parliament'

Larissa Toal (PIR): Women's Representation, Participation and Search for Gender Justice in Sub-State Nationalist Movements

Emilia Belknap (PIR): What do (Scots)women Want Politically?

Recent Publications


(2013) Gender and Political Recruitment: Theorizing Institutional Change. (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan). [Reviewed in Politics & Gender and Perspectives on Politics]

Journal Special Issues:

(2016) 'Candidate Selection: Parties and Legislatures in a New Era'Government and Opposition, 51 (3) (with T. Verge). 

(2015) 'Critical Perspectives on Gender and Political Recruitment'Politics & Gender, 11 (4) (with T. Verge)

Journal Articles:

(2016) 'Pathways to Power: Women's Representation in the 2014 European Parliament Elections'European Journal of Political Research, 55 (3), 626-41 (with M. Luhiste)

(2016) 'Comparing Candidate Selection: A Feminist Institutionalist Approach'Government and Opposition, 51 (3), 370-392 (with E. Bjarnegard)

(2016) 'Opening up the Black Box: Gender and Candidate Selection in a New Era'Government and Opposition, 51 (3), 351-369 (with T. Verge).

(2015) 'Revealing the Secret Garden: The Informal Dimensions of Political Recruitment'Politics & Gender, 11 (4), 748-753. (with E. Bjarnegard)

(2015) 'Women and the 2015 General Election: Shattering the Political Glass Ceiling?', Scottish Affairs, 24 (4), 389-408.

(2014) 'A Feminist Institutionalist Approach'Politics & Gender, 10 (4), 679-684.

(2014) ‘When is contagion not very contagious? Dynamics of women’s political representation in Scotland’Parliamentary Affairs, 67 (4), 866-886 (with F. Mackay).

(2014) 'Engendering the Independence Debate'Scottish Affairs, 23 (3), 323-331.

(2013) ‘Decentralization, Political Parties and Women’s Representation: Evidence from Spain and Britain’, Publius: The Journal of Federalism, 43 (1), 109-128 (with T. Verge).

(2012) ‘Less male, pale and stale? Women and the 2012 Scottish Local Government Elections’Scottish Affairs, 80 (Summer), 20-32 (with F. Mackay).

(2011) ‘In the Balance: Women and the 2011 Scottish Parliament Elections’Scottish Affairs, 76 (Summer), 74-90 (with F. Mackay).

(2011) ‘Gender and Devolution in Spain and the United Kingdom’Politics & Gender, 7 (2), 280-286 (with F. Mackay).

(2010) ‘New institutionalism through a gender lens: towards a feminist institutionalism?’International Political Science Review, 31 (5), 573-588 (with L. Chappell and F. Mackay).

(2009) ‘Already doin’ it for ourselves? Skeptical notes on feminism and institutionalism’Politics & Gender, 5 (2), 271-280 (with F. Mackay).

(2007) ‘Gender, Institutions and Power: A Critical Review’Politics, 27 (2), 91-100.

(2007) ‘Women’s Representation in the 2007 Scottish Parliament: Temporary Setback or Return to the Norm?’, Scottish Affairs, 60 (Summer), 25-38 (with F. Mackay).

Book Chapters:

(2018, forthcoming) 'From Thatcher to May and Beyond: Women in British Politics' in N. Allen and J. Bartle (eds) None Past the Post: Britain at the Polls 2017. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

(2017) 'Feminist and Gendered Approaches' in V. Lowndes, D. Marsh and G. Stoker (eds) Theory and Methods in Political Science. 4th ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave (with F. Mackay).

(2017) ‘Who, where and how? Informal institutions and the third generation of research on gendered dynamics in political recruitment’ in G. Waylen (ed) Gender and Informal Institutions. Rowman & Littlefield International (with E. Bjarnegard).

(2014) 'Gender and Political Recruitment' in R. Campbell and S. Childs (eds) Deeds and Words: Gendering Politics. Colchester: ECPR Press.

(2011) ‘Gender and Institutions of Political Recruitment: Candidate Selection in Post-Devolution Scotland’ in M.L. Krook and F. Mackay (eds) Gender, Politics and Institutions: Toward a Feminist Institutionalism. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 21-41.

(2010) ‘Women and political representation in post-devolution Scotland: high time or high tide?’ in E. Breitenbach and P. Thane (eds) Women and Citizenship in Britain and Ireland in the 20th Century. London: Continuum, pp. 171-188 (with F. Mackay).

(2009) ‘Women’s political representation and the SNP: gendered paradoxes and puzzles’ in G. Hassan (ed) The Modern SNP: From Protest to Power. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp. 42-54 (with F. Mackay).

Recent Media and Commentary (selected):

Topics interested in supervising

I am able to offer PhD supervision in most areas relating to gender politics (international, national and local), party politics, elections and political representation, and British and comparative politics. I would particularly welcome prospective students with interests in feminist and institutionalist approaches to the study of party politics, political recruitment, and/or post-devolution politics in the UK.

If you are interested in being supervised by Meryl Kenny, please see the links below for more information:

PhD in Politics; MSc (R) Political Theory; MSc (R) Politics