POLS 501, Topics in American Government, Women and Politics


Thursday, 3:340-6:10 PM                                                                   Professor Barbara Burrell

Dusable 464                                                                                        753-7050

Office Hours, Tuesday, 2-4, Wednesdays 1-4                                   bburrell@niu.edu

(First Weds of each month I have a meeting from

1-3, so will have office hours from 3-5)

115  Zulauf Hall


A rich array of research on women’s participation in politics has developed over the past few decades all across the various subfields of political science. We will read and discuss some of the research on women and political life in the United States and take a comparative perspective on occasion. Our goals will be to become familiar with the variety of perspectives scholars have taken in thinking about women and politics and gender and politics and the questions they have raised and to understand different theoretical arguments and research approaches. What do we learn by looking at a political question or problem from the perspective of women’s engagement or lack of involvement in political affairs? Why study women and politics? How does the study of women and politics enhance our understanding of the political?


Required Books


Kristi Andersen. After Suffrage: Women in Partisan and Electoral Politics before the New Deal. University of Chicago Press.1996


Cindy Simon Rosenthal, editor. 2002. Women Transforming Congress. University of Oklahoma Press


Brenda O’Neill and Elisabeth Gidengil, editors. 2006. Gender and Social Capital. Routledge


Anne Phillips, editor. 1999. Feminism and Politics. Oxford University Press.


Lee Ann Banaszak.  The U.S. Women’s Movement in Global Perspective. Rowman and Littlefield.


Journal articles are available either through Jstor on Blackboard under our course.  If you are on campus, you just need to type in www.jstor.org to get to that website and download the article. If you are using a computer off campus, logon to the NIU website and go the library, go to articles, tell it that you are off campus, click on General under databases and scroll down to Jstor.




August 31, One Woman, One Vote – PBS Frontline production


September 7, Introduction and Women’s Political Participation in the Suffrage Era

After Suffrage: Women in Partisan and Electoral Politics

Paula Baker. 1990. “The Domestication of Politics: Women and American Political Society, 1780-1920,” In Women, the State, and Welfare, ed. Linda Gordon, 55-91. Blackboard


Some questions for class discussion:  What was the suffrage movement all about and what happened to women’s political participation once they got the vote?


September 14. Women as Candidates for Public Office


Richard Fox and Jennifer Lawless. 2004. “Entering the Arena? Gender and the Decision to Run for Office.” American Journal of Political Science 48 (2): 264-280 Jstor


Women Transforming Congress, Chapters 5, 6, 7

Irwin Gertzog. 2002. “Women’s Changing Pathways to the U. S. House of Representatives: Widows, Elites, and Strategic Politicians.”  95-118

Richard Matland and David C. King, 2002. “Women as Candidates in Congressional Elections.”  119-145

Dianne Bystrom and Lynda Lee Kaid. 2002. “Are Women Candidates Transforming Campaign Communication? A Comparison of Advertising Videostyles in the 1990s, 146-169.


Barbara Burrell 1994. Chapter 6, “Sex and Money.” In A Woman’s Place Is in the House: Campaigning for Congress in the Feminist Era. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 101-130.   Blackboard


Major questions for discussion:  Why are so few women in public office and what are the ways in which men’s and women’s campaigns differ and how are they similar?


September 21, Sex, Public Opinion and Voting Behavior


Kathleen Frankovic. 1982. “Sex and Politics: New Alignments, Old Issues.” PS, 15, 3: 439-448. Jstor


Susan J. Carroll. 1999. “The Disempowerment of the Gender Gap: Moms and the 1996 Election.” PS: Political Science and Politics 32, 1 (March): 7-11.  Jstor


Karen Kauffman and John R. Petrocik. 1991. “The Changing Politics of American Men: Understanding the Sources of the Gender Gap.” American Journal of Political Science 43: 864-887. Jstor


Virginia Sapiro. 2002. “It’s the Context, Situation, and Question, Stupid: the Gender Basis of Public Opinion.” In Understanding Public Opinion, 2nd edition, eds. Barbara Norrander and Clyde Wilcox. Washington, DC: CQ Press. Chapter 1, 21-41.  Blackboard


Cal Clark and Janet M. Clark. 2006.  “The Gender Gap in the Early 21st Century: Volatility from Security Concerns” in Women in Politics: Outsiders or Insiders?, 4th edition, ed. Lois Duke Whitaker. Blackboard



Introductory questions for discussion:  What do we mean by gender? What is the gender gap?


September 28, The Women’s Movement


Prior to reading the chapters, ask yourself “What does the Women’s Movement Mean to Me? What do I know about it?”


The U. S. Women’s Movement in Global Perspective, ed. Lee Ann Banaszak, Chapters 1-5, 7 


Denise L. Baer. 2006. “What Kind of Women’s Movement? Community, Representation and Resurgence.” In Women in Politics: Outsiders or Insiders?, 4th edition, ed. Lois Duke Whitaker. 96-114. Blackboard


October 5, Feminism and Representation


Feminism and Politics, chapters 5, 6. 7, 8


Jane Mansbridge. 1999. “Should Blacks Represent Blacks and Women Represent Women? A Contingent ‘Yes.’” Journal of Politics 61(August): 628-659. Jstor


October 12, Women as Political Leaders


The following readings are all in Women Transforming Congress, Chapters 8, 10, 12, 14


Christina Wolbrecht. “Female Legislators and the Women’s Rights Agenda” 170-197.

Michele Swers.  “Transforming the Agenda: Analyzing Gender Differences in Women’s Issue Bill Sponsorship.”  260-284

Noelle H. Norton. “Transforming Policy from the Inside: Participation in Committee”, 316-340

Katherine Cramer Walsh. “Enlarging Representation: Women Bringing Marginalized Perspectives to Floor Debate in the House of Representatives  370-396


Lyn Kathlene. 1995.  Alternative Views of Crime: Legislative Policymaking in Gendered Terms” Journal of Politics 57, 3 (August): 696-723  Jstor


Discussion question: What does it matter whether we elect more women to political leadership positions?


October 19, Intersectionality: Race, Ethnicity and Gender


Mary Hawkesworth. 2003. “Congressional Enactments of Race-Gender: Toward a Theory of Raced-Gendered Institutions,” American Political Science Review 97 (November): 529-550. Jstor


Carol Hardy-Fanta. 1997. “Latina Women and Political Consciousness: La Chispa Que Prende.” In Women Transforming Politics: An Alternative Reader, eds. Cathy J. Cohen, Kathleen B. Jones and Joan C. Tronto. New York: New York University Press, 223-237.  Blackboard


Wini Breines. 2002. “What’s Love Got to Do with It? White Women, Black Women, and Feminism in the Movement Years.” Signs 27, 4: 1095-1133 Jstor


Jane Junn. “Assimilating or Coloring Participation? Gender, Race, and Democratic Political Participation.” In Women Transforming Politics: An Alternative Reader, eds. Cathy J. Cohen, Kathleen B. Jones and Joan C. Tronto. New York: New York University Press, 387-397.  Blackboard


EvelynM. Simien. 2004. “Gender Differences in Attitudes toward Black Feminism among African Americans.” Political Science Quarterly 119, 2 Summer, 315-338. Jstor


October 26, Electoral Structures, Quotas and the Numerical Representation of Women in National Parliaments


You may want to peruse http://idea.int for more information on the different types of electoral systems. 


Eileen McDonagh. 2002. “Political Citizenship and Democratization: The Gender Paradox.” American Political Science Review 96, 3 (September) 553-564. Jstor


Wilma Rule. 1987. “Electoral Systems, Contextual Factors and Women’s Opportunity for Election to Parliament in Twenty-Three Democracies.” Western Political Quarterly 34: 60-77. Jstor


Richard Matland. 1998. “Women’s Representation in National Legislatures: Developed and Developing Countries.” Legislative Studies Quarterly, 23, 1 (February): 109-125. Jstor


Aili Tripp, Dior Konate and Colleen Lowe-Morna. 2006. “Sub-Saharan Africa: on the Fast Track to Women’s Political Representation.” In Women, Quotas and Politics, Ed. Drude Dahlerup. New York: Routledge, 112-137. Blackboard.


Joyce Gelb. “Representing Women in Britain and the United States,” Chapter 16 in Women Transforming Congress, 422-444.


November 2 – The 2006 Election and a Woman as President


We will discuss the campaigns you have been studying, analyze the various hypotheses about men’s and women’s campaigns, look at some TV ads and predict the election results. If we have time we will also discuss the question of a woman for president.


Carole Kennedy, “Is the United States Ready for a Woman President? Is the Pope Protestant?” chapter 12 in Anticipating Madam President, eds. Robert Watson and Ann Gordon,  Blackboard.


Jennifer Lawless. 2004. “Women, War and Winning Elections: Gender Stereotyping I the Post September 11th Era.” Political Research Quarterly, 57, 3 (September): 479-490.   Jstor


November 9 – Women and Social Capital


Gender and Social Capital, chapters 2, 3, 4, 5

Amy Caiazza. 2005. “Don’t Bowl at Night: Gender, Safety, and Civic Participation.” Signs, 30, 2 :1608-1631.      


Discussion question: What is social capital and what does it mean to look at it from a gendered perspective?


November 16. Graduate Colloquium: Retrospective on the 2006 Elections


November 30, Student Presentations of APSA papers


December 7, Women in Political Science and Studying Women and Politics  

                     Student Presentations of APSA papers


“Women’s Advancement in Political Science,” American Political Science Association, 2004



Susan Bourque and Jean Grossholtz, “Politics an Unnatural Practice: Political Science Looks at Female Participation” in Feminism and Politics, chapter 1, 23-44.


Virginia Sapiro. “Feminist Studies and Political Science and Vice Versa.” In Feminism and Politics, Chapter 3, 67-92 


Susan Carroll and Linda  M.G. Zerilli. 1993. “Feminist Challenges to Political Science.” In Political Science: the State of the Discipline II. Ed. Ada W. Finiter. 55-76. Blackboard


Research paper: Indepth Case Study of a Competitive 2006 Congressional Campaign involving a Woman Candidate


In 1994, the University of Michigan Press published my research on the campaigns of women and men for Congress from 1972 to 1992 in A Woman’s Places Is in the House: Campaigning for Congress in the Feminist Era. In this research I developed a database of all the men and women who had run for a seat in the U.S. House including primary candidates. The database consisted of their party affiliation, status as an incumbent, incumbent challenger, or open seat contender, a variety of information about each candidate’s fundraising, the percent of the votes they received, their age and other background information. The purpose of the study was to test a number of conventional wisdom ideas about why so few women have been elected to the national legislature. My findings challenged most of the conventional ideas regarding reasons for the low level of numerical representation of women in the national legislature. The question now is what has happened since 1992, the so-called “Year of the Woman” in American politics regarding the campaigns and election of women to Congress? To what extent and in what ways is gender still a factor in political leadership? 


I am now writing a sequel that addresses some of the same questions and explores women’s movement into leadership positions in Congress. It examines elections from 1994 through 2006.  I am seeking your help in this effort through your research papers. I am asking each of you to conduct an indepth case study of a competitive race for the House or Senate in 2006.  You will apply many of the concepts that been important in the study of women’s campaigns to the particular race on which you are focusing, describe the campaigns of both the female candidate and that of her male opponent, and explain the outcome.  We will then look across the campaigns and results to address more generally various hypotheses regarding gender and elections.


How we will proceed:


  1. You will randomly select a race to focus on from a list that I will construct.
  2. Each week before the election we can take a small amount of class time to address any issues that are arising from your studies.
  3. November2:

             In class you will present information on the major issues of the campaigns

How much money the candidates have raised and spent?

We will watch some of the candidates’ TV ads from the Internet and compare the candidates’ videostyles. On that date you will turn in a 2-3 page paper predicting the outcome of the race and explaining your prediction. This paper can then become part of your larger research paper.


The research paper should address at a minimum:


The economic, social and political context of the district or state race you are covering.

Trace the activities and events of the campaigns through the fall campaign season.

Describe the campaign organizations of both candidates,

Examine the fundraising efforts of the candidates.

Explore media coverage of the race.

What issues are the candidates stressing?

What role are the party organizations at different levels playing? What about the involvement of various interest groups?

Who does the local media endorse and why?

Watch any debates that you can on CSPAN.

Develop an electronic relationship with a member of the campaign and a political reporter who is following the campaign to provide you with information about the campaign.

Most broadly, what are the ways, if any, that gender entered into the campaigns?


Through discussions with your colleagues in the class and following the national election process, you should be able to note distinctions in your campaign make some comparisons across campaigns.  You should conclude your paper with a reflection on the campaign process and women as political candidates. 


I am also giving you a supplemental reading list to use as background material for placing your study in the larger research context on women as candidates for public office in the United States. I do not expect you to read all of these materials but to use them to inform your study. This list will be available on Blackboard.


I hope that you will find this a challenging and engaging research project. Any material used from it in my book will be credited to the author.       


     40% of Course Grade       


Assignment #2


Each student should find a paper on women and politics that has been presented at the 2005 or 2006 annual meeting of the American Political Science Association. The student will present a synopsis of the paper to the class and lead discussion on the paper.  The student will take on the role of the author of the paper and present the paper as one might at a conference.  At a conference one usually has between 10 and 15 minutes to tell the audience about the research project.  The author 1) briefly tells of the incentive for this research, i.e., what is the theoretical importance of the subject and what is the unanswered question the author is addressing, 2) how does the author propose that the political problem should be studied and what research methods has he or she undertaken to answer the research question, 3) what are the author’s findings and 4) what are the author’s conclusions.  Then the student should take on the role of discussant and lead the class in a discussion of the paper.  All members of the class should have also read the paper and contribute to the discussion.  To find a paper to present, go to the American Political Science Association website,  (www.apsanet.org). For 2005 papers go to www.apsanet.org/section_610.cfm. Click on view papers, click browse papers, and go to Women and Politics. For 2006 papers go to www.apsanet.org/content_2665.cfm, click on review online program.


You should email me the paper that you have chosen. You should also go to the discussion board in Blackboard for this course and post the paper there.


10% of Course Grade: 


Assignment #3


Take-home final.  The final exam will be written during finals week. You will be required to write an essay that synthesizes the major questions of the semester and reviews the research that has been conducted to answer these major questions and look to the future.  I will provide more details during the semester.


25% of Course Grade


Class Participation


Finally, this course is a seminar and as participants in it you will be expected to contribute as much as I do.  Everyone is expected to come to class each week having read all of that week’s readings and be ready to engage in a thoughtful discussion of them.  We will want to think about various authors’ theoretical focus. What are the big picture questions they are addressing and seeking to answer? How are they going about answering them, what have they found and what do they conclude? Where might their research go next? We will also want to think about how might scholarly research inform political activism?  No matter how grand your research paper might be and how insightful your final exam might be if you do not actively make positive contributions to each week’s class discussion, you will not receive an A in the course. 

I will attempt to give you feedback at the midpoint of the term as to how I believe you are doing regarding class participation.


25% of Course Grade


Statement Concerning Students with Disabilities

Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, NIU is committed to making reasonable accommodations for persons with documented disabilities. Those students with disabilities that may have some impact on their coursework and for which they may require accommodations should notify the Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR) on the fourth floor of the Health Services Building. CAAR will assist students in making appropriate accommodations with course instructors. It is important that CAAR and instructors be informed of any disability-related needs during the first two weeks of the semester.