Dr. Isabelle Kürschner

Isabelle Kürschner is a senior research associate at the Academy for Politics and Current Affairs at the Hanns-Seidel-Foundation in Munich, Germany. At this policy-oriented think tank she conducts research and offers practice-oriented political advisory services on women and gender issues such as women in politics, women in the workplace, and work-family balance.

Dr. Kürschner completed her undergraduate studies at Friedrich-Alexander-University, Erlangen, and McGill University, Montréal. She received her master’s degree and her doctorate from the Catholic University of Eichstätt. Her research centers on women and gender issues, with a particularly interest in women’s political participation in Europe and the United States. During the course of her studies Dr. Kürschner spent considerable time in Canada and the U.S. as a research fellow with the Fulbright Commission, Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation, and Hanns-Seidel-Foundation.

As a DAAD/AICGS Fellow, she will conduct research on “Women’s political representation in the U.S. and Germany.” This current project is devoted to a qualitative study of female political leaders in Germany and the U.S. in a comparative perspective. While in Europe shortfalls in women’s political representation are mainly attributed to structural factors such as electoral or party systems, the deficit of women in American politics is often ascribed to women’s lack of desire for a political career. Combining the two approaches might lead to new findings that can help increase women’s political representation on both sides of the Atlantic since women’s political participation appears strongly conditioned by both internal (ambition) and external (structures) factors. In order to compare women’s pathways to elected office, Dr. Kürschner will extend her previous analyses of German women and examine the experiences and backgrounds of those who have been successful in reaching high ranking political positions in the U.S.

Sponsored By:

Dr. Isabelle Kürschner's Archive

German Family Policy and the Idea of “Wahlfreiheit”


At 3.1 percent of GDP, Germany spends far above the OECD average on family benefits, whereas the United States spends only 1.3 percent of its GDP on family benefits. However, differences in spending are not the only contrasts regarding family policy in Germany and the U.S., writes former DAAD/AICGS Fellow Dr. Isabelle Kürschner. They also differ significantly with respect to parental leave systems, maternal employment rates, and the number of children born in each country. Dr. Kürschner examines the distinctiveness of German family policy in this Transatlantic Perspectives essay.

They’ve Come a Long Way – Really? Women in Politics in Germany and the United States

By:   |   Issues:   |   Programs:

In this Transatlantic Perspectives essay, DAAD/AICGS Fellow Dr. Isabelle Kürschner examines the increase in women legislators in Germany and the U.S. since the mid-1970s and dissects the factors that contributed to this increase. Dr. Kürschner also looks at the role that women’s organizations and networks play in assisting women legislators, showing a large difference in organizational effectiveness in the two countries.