Valerie Hudson is a university distinguished professor of international affairs at Texas A&M’s Bush School of Government and Public Service, where she holds the George H.W. Bush Chair. Hudson is an expert on international security, foreign policy analysis and gender and security. Hudson has developed a nation-by-nation database on women, the WomanStats Database, and has done research linking the security of women to the security of states.
Hudson received her bachelor's degree in political science from Brigham Young University before going on to earn both a master’s in international relations and a Ph.D. in political science at Ohio State University. She then taught as a visiting assistant professor at Northwestern State University and Rutgers University before returning to Brigham Young to teach for almost 25 years. Hudson began her work at the Bush School in January 2012.
Hudson teaches courses on foreign policy analysis, which is the study of foreign policy decision making. She also teaches a class called “Women and Nations,” a foundational course for students working on a concentration in Women, peace and Security, which she created.
“When I came to the Bush School, I knew one of the things I could contribute would be that concentration,” Hudson said. “We have a number of courses that students can take to build that skillset of determining how national security depends on the situation, security and status of women.”
Hudson is also a published author with several works focused on the link between women and national security. Her first book, “Sex and World Peace,” was published in 2012, and since then, she has been involved with several other publications, including “The Hillary Doctrine: Sex and American Foreign Policy.” Her most recent coauthored book, “The First Political Order: How Sex Shapes Governance and National Security Worldwide,” was released in March 2020 by the Columbia University Press.
“[In the book] we were able to show pretty conclusively that nations that subordinate women, for example, have much poorer outcomes even when controlling for all sorts of additional explanations like wealth,” Hudson said. “No matter what dimension of security you are talking about — peace, good governance, health, wealth, even environmental preservation — there is no way to examine those without also examining how half of the population contributes to those goods.”
In 2009, Foreign Policy magazine named Hudson to its Top 100 Global Thinkers list, which recognizes each year’s most influential people. Hudson said this recognition came on the heels of her work on sex ratios in Asia and how they were closely connected with national security. Hudson also said the award made it known that women were making important strides in the field of national security, a heavily male-dominated field.
“When I was in graduate school most of my classes were ‘women-less classes,’ meaning there were no female professors, barely any mention of women and the idea that what was happening with female populations might have anything to do with national security would have been seen as ridiculous,” Hudson said. “It was only after getting past the blinders that my own education had put on me that I was able to see that it was obvious that what was happening to the women in a population would have so much of an influence over the security of a nation-state.”
In 2019, A&M awarded Hudson the University Distinguished Professor Award, the highest honor that can be given to a faculty member. The award is given to faculty who have been deemed to have an impactful career in their field, on their nation or even internationally.
“I felt greatly honored that my career was judged to have been important in changing the discourse around national security,” Hudson said. “I’m very grateful.”
Currently, Hudson is in the beginning stages of collaborating with colleagues from Germany and the U.K. on research that will quantify the marriage market migration of women across borders into China. China has a huge lack of marriage-age women, which creates a significant pull for women from border regions into the country. The population of women from border regions is what will be studied, Hudson said.
“No one is really examining the migration of women for marriage purposes,” Hudson said. “So we want to shine a spotlight on this topic that is pretty much hidden from the world’s eye, as it has effects on where the women are going as well as the regions they are leaving.”
Hudson directs the Bush School’s Program on Women, Peace and Security, and said it provides valuable training for students who wish to adopt gender lenses and learn the skill of gender analysis. She said the program hopes to shape the minds of students who will be the policymakers of tomorrow.
“National security as a topic is still heavily gendered male, though I think we have made some progress,” Hudson said. “Rhetorically there has been tremendous development, but practically speaking I think we have a long way to go.”