POLS 373 Women and Politics, Fall 2008


    Rosie the Voter*


Dr. Barbara Burrell, Office: 115 Zulauf Hall, 753-7050, bburrell@niu.edu

Office hours:  Tuesday, 2-4 PM, Wed, 10-12, 1-3


Alisa Von Hagel, Graduate Assistant, Office: 464 DuSable, z066067@students.niu.edu

Office hours: Wed. 12-2, Thurs. 2-3, Dusable 476.


How fair and just is it that men monopolize positions of political leadership?


To what extent do men and women differ and to what extent do they act the same in the political realm?


How have women expanded the definition of what is political?


How do young women today view politics and equality for women?


Consider that “domestic violence is a leading cause of death for women ages 15-44, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.


These are some of the questions we will address in this class. Women in the United States have participated in and affected politics in distinctive ways historically from a 70 year campaign to get the vote, expanding the very definition of politics (e.g., “the personal is political”) and seeking the highest office in the land.  Women have sought to change their communities, make the workplace more family-friendly, promote women’s issues (what are they anyway?), and work for women’s rights around the globe. We will explore the many ways women have engaged in the political process and assess their effect.  


Required Books:


Lynne E. Ford, Women and Politics: The Pursuit of Equality, second edition. Houghton Mifflin

Susan J. Carroll and Richard L. Fox, editors. 2006, Gender and Elections: Shaping the Future of American Politics

Jo Freeman, 2008. We Shall Be Heard, Rowman and Littlefield


Also required: CLICKER

Subscribe to Womens enews  www.womensenews.org


Students also need to purchase a Classroom Performance System (CPS) response pad (clicker) at the bookstore and register the pad for use in POLS 373. The pad costs about $20 and registration costs $13.  Once you have bought the pad it can be used in other classes and once you have registered for its use in three classes, registration for use in further classes is free.  You register the pad by going to Blackboard, bringing up this class, click on Tools on the left hand side of the page, click on CPS and follow the instructions. You pay the $13 online.


Proposed Class Schedule


Assignment:  Collect news media articles on women engaging in political acts in their community or acts outside of electoral politics. We will use them on the section on community activism in November.


Week of August 26

August 26 – Introduction

August 28 – DVDOne Woman, One Vote


Week of September 4

September 4 – finish DVD

Readings: Women and Politics, Chapter 2

                  We Will be Heard, Chapters 1-3


Week of September 9th  - The Women’s Rights Movement and Feminisms

Readings: Women and Politics, Chapter 1

Clicker quiz: September 9


Week of September 16th  - Women and Electoral Politics

Readings: Women and Politics, Chapter 3

                  We Will Be Heard, Chapter 8

                  Gender and Elections, Chapters 2, 3

                  16 Ways of Looking at a Female Voter”, Linda Hirshman, New York Times, Feb 3, 2008 (Blackboard, Course Documents).  

Assignment:  How are the presidential candidates addressing women’s issues and attempting to win the women’s vote? Examine the candidates’ websites and media articles on these topics and write a 2 page (double-spaced) paper summarizing their activities and approaches in this realm.  


Week of September 23 – Women as Candidates for Public Office

Readings: Women and Politics, Chapter 4

                  We Will Be Heard, Chapters 6, 7

                  Gender and Elections, Chapters 4, 5, 7, 8  

Clicker quiz: September 23


Week of September 30 – Women and the Political Parties

Readings:   We Will Be Heard, Chapters 9, 10

                   Gender and Elections, Chapter 6

Clicker Quiz: September 30


Week of October 7th  - Woman for President: Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Campaign for the White House

Readings: We Will Be Heard, Chapter 5

                  Gender and Elections, Chapter 1

Assignment, Due October 7: Write an approximately 2 page paper on a woman head of government in a nation outside of the United States. At a minimum what should be included are biographical information, political background, how elected (i.e., under what type of electoral system), and policy leadership, Find commentary and evaluation on the leadership of this woman from the news media and the Internet.


Week of October 14th  - Midterm Examination

 October 14 – Review (we will have an informal Clicker quiz to help review)

 October 16 - Midterm


Week of October 21 Descriptive Representation

Readings: Women and Politics, Chapter 5

October 21: Clicker quiz


Week of October 28 Continue with Representation and elections

Assignment:  Find two women’s groups active in the election and describe their organization, activities and strategies.


October 30 – student presentations on their women candidates


Week of November 4   “Election Day”, begin Women and Public Policy

Readings:  We Will Be Heard, Chapters 11, 12, 13

Clicker quiz: November 4


Week of November 11th  Women and Public Policy

Women and Politics, Chapters 6, 7, 8

November 13: Student Public Policy presentations


Week of November 18th  Community activism

Mother Jones, the Most Dangerous Woman, Lecture with Rosemary Feuer

Reading on Mother Jones, to be assigned

We will also examine the examples of women organizing in their communities and outside of electoral politics that you have found in the news media.


Week of November 25th  International Women’s Rights

Readings: Nicholas Kristof’s editorials         

            November 25, student presentations on women’s rights groups


Week of December 2 – Overview of women’s participation in politics

Readings: Women and Politics, Chapter 9

December 2, Clicker quiz


Week of December 8 – Final Exam - Tuesday, December 9 from noon-1:50 PM


I expect that at this point in your college career you know how to act responsibly in class.


There are a number of ways of earning points toward your ultimate grade in this class.


1. Attendance. Attendance will be taken each class period at the beginning of class. One point per class for a total of 30 points (one free day). If you come to class after attendance is taken you will not get credit for that day. If you leave class early without an excuse you will not receive credit for attending that day.


2. Clicker quizzes, five points each.  At least 4-5 times during the semester when we start a new set of readings, we will have a quick Clicker quiz of five questions at the beginning of class. See class schedule. 


3. Term paper


You have three options to choose from for a paper topic


a.  Indepth case study of a woman’s campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives, Senate, or Governor.  List of potential candidates is on Blackboard.

Your paper should cover at a minimum the background of the candidate and her opponent, her political career and how she came to running for this position.  What are her stands on the major issues? How are the media covering her? What words are used to describe her and her campaign? What is her message?  Describe her campaign. What groups are supporting her and her opponent? How much money is she raising and spending? See opensecrets.org.  Explain the outcome of the election. To what extent to you see gender playing a role in the campaign?  What does it mean to you to have gender playing a role in a campaign? These are minimum items to cover in your paper. 


b An indepth analysis of an issue area in which the Congressional Caucus on Women’s Issues is currently focusing. There are eight Task Forces. See Blackboard for a listing of these task forces. It is up to you to choose an area and research what the issues are that the Task Force is focusing on. What policies are they developing to solve various problems in that area? Provide a history of the issue. Explain the strategies of the Task Force to create solutions to these problems.  Integrate an understanding of the policy making process into your analysis.  Assess the likelihood of legislative success in this issue area. You should be creative and assertive in exploring a Task Force, but I will be happy to help you think about ways for finding information.


c.  American women’s organizations to promote women’s rights around the world.  Using the Internet and reading materials explore at least three groups or organizations that are promoting women’s rights internationally. Consider their vision and mission. What are their activities and strategies? How are they promoting women’s rights? You may want to do telephone interviews with some of their leaders. Check out Vital Voices (www.witalvoices.org) for example.


Each term paper should be ten pages minimum (double spaced, 1 inch margins, 12 point font or smaller.  It can be any length above that minimum.  What is most important is the quality of your work.  I expect excellent grammar and sentence structure.  I expect all of the questions I have given you to explore to be covered in a broad manner. I will be looking for students to go beyond the minimum requirements listed here.  VERY IMPORTANT is a concluding section that reflects on your study.  You should reflect both on what you have learned about women and politics and on the governmental system more generally.  Your conclusion should be at least one page long at a minimum.      


Students often ask during the course of the semester what I want in their term papers. What I want beyond the minimum requirements spelled out in the syllabus is for students to be creative, challenge themselves and write a professional and thoughtful paper.  It is up to you to decide how you want to design the paper and how to collect and assemble information for it. It should not be just a “fill in the blanks” from extensive details on my part. I will be happy to work with you as you go about putting together this project. I am happy to review with you what you have found along the way and discuss how best to present your findings.  There is no one right way to write your paper.  Please challenge yourself! You will not regret it. You will end up with a project that you are proud of and a work of honor that might be used as you seek professional employment upon graduation or apply for graduate school.


You are expected to come see me or see our graduate assistant Alisa Von Hagel at least once outside of class to discuss your paper and how you are developing it. This discussion will count toward your grade.  Term paper due in class December 2.


4.  Midterm and final examination. 50 points each


5. Three class assignments




Attendance – 1 point for each day attending class    - 30 points

Midterm – 50 points

Final – 50 Points

Term Paper 50 points

Assignments (3) – 5 points each

Clicker quizzes (5) – 5 points each  - 25 points


Total:  points   (A= 90% of total points, B=80% of total points, C=70% of total points, D=60% of total points)

Students with Disabilities: NIU abides by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 regarding provision of reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities. Moreover, your academic success is of importance to me. If you have a disability that may have a negative impact on your performance in this course and you may require some type of instructional and/or examination accommodation, please contact me early in the semester so that I can provide or facilitate in providing accommodations you may need.  If you have not already done so, you will need to register with the Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR), the designated office on campus to provide services and administer exams with accommodations for students with disabilities. CAAR is located on the 4th floor of the University Health Services building (753-1303). I look forward to talking with you to learn how I may be helpful in enhancing your academic success in this course.

Undergraduate Writing Awards: The department of Political Science will recognize, on an annual basis, outstanding undergraduate papers written in conjunction with 300-400 level political science courses or directed studies. Authors do not have to be political science majors or have a particular class standing. Winners are expected to attend the Department's spring graduation ceremony where they will receive a certificate and $50. Papers, which can be submitted by students or faculty, must be supplied in triplicate to a department secretary by February 28. All copies should have two cover pages-one with the student's name and one without the student's name. Only papers written in the previous calendar year can be considered for the award. However, papers completed in the current spring semester are eligible for the following year's competition even if the student has graduated.

Website: Undergraduates are strongly encouraged to consult the Department of Political Science website on a regular basis. This up to date, central source of information will assist students in contacting faculty and staff, reviewing course requirements and syllabi, exploring graduate study, researching career options, tracking department events, and accessing important details related to undergraduate programs and activities. To reach the site, go to http://www.polisci.niu.edu/index.html

 Academic dishonesty:  In preparing for your work and meeting the requirements of this course, you are expected to adhere to all the rules, regulations, and standards set forth by the Department of Political Science, Northern Illinois University, and the scholarly community.  This statement encompasses intentional and unintentional plagiarism; cheating on examinations; using, purchasing, or stealing others’ work; misusing library materials; and so forth.  The NIU Undergraduate Catalog states:


Good academic work must be based on honesty. The attempt of any student to present as his or her own work that which he or she has not produced is regarded by the faculty and administration as a serious offense. Students are considered to have cheated if they copy the work of another during an examination or turn in a paper or an assignment written, in whole or in part, by someone else. Students are guilty of plagiarism, intentional or not, if they copy material from books, magazines, or other sources without identifying and acknowledging those sources or if they paraphrase ideas from such sources without acknowledging them. Students guilty of, or assisting others in, either cheating or plagiarism on an assignment, quiz, or examination may receive a grade of F for the course involved and may be suspended or dismissed from the university. (Undergraduate Catalog)

Don’t plagiarize or cheat.  I will catch you!  If you are not sure what constitutes plagiarism, ask.  Ignorance will not be tolerated as an excuse.

*Rosie the Voter, from Womensenews