Article on funny women as policy entrepreneurs wins prestigious award

By Shannon Jenkins

Thursday September 26, 2019

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A paper on why female comics can serve as policy entrepreneurs in public administration has won the award for the most influential article published in The Australian Journal of Public Administration.

In their paper, ‘Funny Evidence: Female Comics are the New Policy Entrepreneur’, Dr Christopher Pepin-Neff from The University of Sydney and Kristin Caporale from Assumption College, Worcester Massachusetts, argued that female comics can play an important role in policymaking. They can serve as policy entrepreneurs by using their identity to locate themselves as relevant actors, attaching solutions to problems, biasing political outcomes, benefiting from their engagement, and introducing narratives that change the emotional habitus of an audience and influence the broader public.

The article looks at key on-going issues of gender inequity from the past decade, as well as the prominent female comics from the era, to consider the role they play in policymaking.

National President of the Institute of Public Administration (IPAA) Professor Peter Shergold announced the Sam Richardson Award winners at a gala dinner preceding the 2019 IPAA National Conference in Darwin on Wednesday, where he concluded his term. 

“The article by Christopher and Kristin challenges the way we think about the theory of policy entrepreneurship — the impact of individual actors on the policy process — by looking at it through the lens of some of the world’s best female comics, from the cartoonist, author and playwright Alison Bechdel to Tina Fey, Melissa McCarthy and many others,” he said.

IPAA also announced 10 new additions to the ranks of the IPAA National Fellows on the night.

First awarded in 1992, the prestigious public administration award honours the contribution of administrator, academic, and lawyer, Professor Sam S. Richardson to public administration study and practice in Australia.

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