Political Women and American Democracy

University of Notre Dame, 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 offered 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. The conference goal was 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 policymaking. We also sought 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 was principally sponsored by the Program in American Democracy at the University of Notre Dame and organized by Christina Wolbrecht. The event was co-sponsored by the journal Politics & Gender, edited by Karen Beckwith and Lisa Baldez. This conference was one of a series of conferences offered during 2005 and 2006 as part of a major grant from the Annenberg Foundation.

Conference Schedule

Thursday, May 26th, 7pm, Donors Room Morris Inn

Opening Dinner (invitation only)

Friday, May 26th, 9am-11:30am, CCE Rms. 100-104

Panel I

Women’s Movements and Women in Movements: Influencing American Democracy from the Outside? Lee Ann Banaszak, Pennsylvania State University
Commentator: Lisa Baldez, Dartmouth College

Representation by Gender and Parties Kira Sanbonmatsu, Ohio State University
Commentator: Eileen McDonagh, Northeastern University

Gender in the Aggregate, Gender in the Individual, Gender and Political ActionNancy Burns, University of Michigan
Commentator: Jane Junn, Rutgers University

12:00pm, Donors Room Morris Inn


1:30pm-3:30pm, CCE rms. 100-104

Panel II

Women as Candidates in American Politics: The Continuing Impact of Sex and Gender Kathy Dolan, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
Commentator: Kim Fridkin, Arizona State

Women as Office Holders: Linking Descriptive and Substantive RepresentationBeth Reingold, Emory University
Commentator: Susan Welch, Pennsylvania State


Dinner (invitation only)

Saturday, May 27th, 8:30am-10:30am, CCE rms. 100-104

Panel III

Making Democracy Work for Women? Suzanne Dovi, University of Arizona
Commentator: Jane Mansbridge, Harvard University

Gender as a Category of Political Analysis in American Political DevelopmentGretchen Ritter, University of Texas, Austin
Commentator: Suzanne Mettler, Syracuse University


Panel IV

Wrap-Up Discussion

11:45am, Alumni Room Morris Inn




Lisa Baldez, Dartmouth College

Lee Ann Banaszak, Pennsylvania State University

Karen Backwith, College of Wooster

Nancy Burns, University of Michigan

Kathleen Dolan, University of WIsconsin, Milwaukee

Suzanaa Dovi, University of Arizona

Kim Fridkin, Arizona State University

Jane Junn, Rutgers University

Jane Mansbridge, Harvard University

Eileen L. McDonagh, Northeastern University

Suzanna Mettler, Cornell University

Beth Reingold, Emory University

Gretchen RItter, University of Texas at Austin

Kira Sanbonmatsu, Ohio State University

Christina Wolbrecht, University of Notre Dame

Susan Welch, Pennsylvania State University