Mel Atkinson is associate professor of political science at UNC Charlotte. Her research focuses on agenda setting and the policymaking process, with an emphasis on the roles public opinion, issue framing, media coverage, and gender stereotypes play in shaping policy debate.
Dr. Atkinson teaches an introductory American politics course and upper-level courses on women and politics, media and politics, and issue framing. She is a faculty affiliate of UNCC’s Women and Gender Studies Program, and of the Public Policy Program.
Prior to her academic career, Dr. Atkinson worked as a writer for a K Street communications firm and as a campaign manager. She now studies the impact of the slogans and sound bites she once helped to create.
- Atkinson, Mary Layton. 2017. Combative Politics: The Media and Public Perceptions of Lawmaking. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Atkinson, Mary Layton. 2020. “Gender and Policy Agendas in the Post-War House.” Policy Studies Journal. 48(1): 133-156. doi:
- Atkinson, Mary Layton and Jason Harold Windett. 2019. “Gender Stereotypes and the Policy Priorities of Women in Congress” Political Behavior. 41(3): 769–789.
- Atkinson, Mary Layton. 2018. “Real News, Fake News: For Lawmakers, No News is Good News.” Extensions: A Journal of the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center. Winter, 2018.
- Atkinson, Mary Layton, John Lovett and Frank R. Baumgartner. 2014. “Measuring The Media Agenda,” Political Communication, 31(2): 355-380.
Work in Progress
- Three Models of Opinion Dynamics (under contract with Cambridge University Press). (With Jim Stimson, Frank Baumgartner and Elizabeth Coggins)
- Detecting diverse perspectives: using text analytics to reveal sex differences in congressional debate about defense (R&R). (With Reza Mousavi and Jason Windett).
- The Impact of Gender on Responses to Covid-19: Evidence from the U.S. States. (With Jason Windett, Samira Shaikh, Ben Radford, Zhuo Cheng, Stephanie Moller, and Nathaniel Birkhead).
- Gender, Race, and News Coverage of the 2020 Democratic Primaries (manuscript in preparation).