Political Women and American Democracy Conference

May 25-27, 2006

It has been some 30 years since Jeane Kirkpatrick’s Political Women (1974) and Jo Freeman’s The Politics of Women’s Liberation (1975), among others, heralded a new era in the study of women and politics in the United States. The topic itself was not new—articles regarding political women can be found in the American Political Science Review from its first decade of publication. Yet with the rise of the modern women’s movement and the growing numbers of female scholars entering the political science profession, research on gender and politics expanded and diversified in unprecedented ways. As a result, our current literature on all aspects of women and American politics is rich, diverse, and wide-ranging. As the experiences of and conditions for political women in the United States have evolved, so has our scholarship. Much has been gained, but there is still so much more to do to further our understanding of how women and gender matter for American democracy.

The Political Women and American Democracy Conference offers an opportunity to take stock of what has been learned and to provide a blueprint for where this literature could most profitably move in the future. Our goal is to think critically and creatively about the many ways in which women act and interact politically in American democracy, about how gender affects political processes and development, and about how the presence (and absence) of women shapes democratic policy making. We also seek to consider how theoretical and methodological approaches have informed and sometimes hampered gender research and how gender scholarship has affected the field of American politics and political science as a whole.

The Political Women and American Democracy Conference is principally sponsored by the Program in American Democracy at the University of Notre Dame and organized by Christina Wolbrecht. The event is cosponsored by the journal Politics & Gender, edited by Karen Beckwith and Lisa Baldez. This conference will be one of a series of conferences offered during 2005 and 2006 as part of a major grant from the Annenberg Foundation.