Political Science 201-01
Women and Politics
Fall 2002 MW 2:40 – 3:55
307 Albertus Hall

Professor Angela D. Ledford

Office:5 Moran Hall
Phone:(o) 458-5326 (h) 437-0199
Office Hours:M & W 10:30 AM - Noon and by appointment

“We show a government to be representative not by demonstrating its control over its subjects but just the reverse, by demonstrating that its subjects have control over what it does.”
Hanna Fenichel Pitkin (1972, 232)

Course Objective

This course is designed as an introduction to the role of women in contemporary politics. More specifically, we will want to examine whether or not women’s participation in politics differs in meaningful ways from men’s and, if so, in what ways. If women have different interests and concerns from men, then it seems it would follow that women’s political participation is required in a democratic polity—yet we know that women and those marginalized by race, class, sexuality, and ethnicity comprise a much smaller proportion of representative bodies than we would expect given their numbers in society. Presumably, representation plays a central role in a democracy, but what does this really mean? That is, who or what is to be represented, and under what conditions can representation be said to be democratic and/or just? What do our answers to these questions tell us about the possibilities for genuine representation and justice?

Course Requirements

3 Critical Essays (approximately 6-7 pages each)45%
Final Essay (take-home)40%


You are expected to attend all classes and are responsible for all class work, lecture notes, announcements, etc., whether or not you are present. You are allowed three unexcused absences, after which your final grade will be dropped half a letter grade for each unexcused absence thereafter. You are also expected to have read the assigned readings carefully before each class meeting and participate thoughtfully in class discussions of the material.

Required Texts

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

*** There will also be a reading packet containing relevant book chapters and journal articles. Readings from this packet are denoted in the syllabus by an asterisk.

*** All written assignments and most announcements will be posted on Blackboard. You should get in the habit of checking Blackboard regularly.

Introduction to the Course

Week One

August 26: Introduction

August 28: Gender and Partisan Politics--Assumptions

Women and Electoral Politics—The Early Years

At the turn of the century, as the women’s suffrage movement began to gain momentum, there were heated debates regarding whether or not women should have a role in public life. If they should have a public role, what should that role be? Should they be granted the right to vote and even run for public office? How would such a public role for women change the ways in which our private lives, primarily governed by women, are conducted? Many who argued that (white) women should have the same political rights as (white) men claimed that women possess a special moral voice that would serve a positive and necessary function. Yet many who argued against women’s suffrage claimed that this very “moral voice” was precisely what political life did not require—and women would be soiled by participating in the political process. Still others maintained that women would simply vote the same way as their husbands—and if this was the case, then women were already represented by the votes cast by their husbands. For many decades now, the conventional wisdom in the study of politics has been that women’s formal inclusion in the political process in 1920 did not make much of a difference in how the nation conducted (or conducts) public affairs. Kristi Andersen argues that this is a mistaken view.

Week Two

September 2: NO CLASS—Labor Day

September 4: Andersen, Chapter 1

Week Three

September 9: Andersen, Chapter 2

September 11: Andersen, cont.

Week Four

September 16: Andersen, Chapter 3

September 18: Andersen, Chapter 4

Week Five

September 23: Andersen, cont.

September 25: Andersen, Chapter 5

Week Six

September 30: Andersen, Chapter 6

October 2: Andersen, cont.--conclusions

Week Seven

Political Representation& Difference

In this section of the course it will be important to ask whether or not the representation of individuals is sufficient to secure democratic ends given the realities of racism and difference. Or are we actually not representing individuals at all but rather interests? What about group representation? Would the representation of groups avoid the problems associated with the representation of individuals or interests? In avoiding certain problems what new ones might group representation create?

October 7: * Hanna Pitkin, “Introduction,” from The Concept of Representation, pp. 1-13

October 9: Pitkin, cont.

Week Eight

October 14: NO CLASS—Columbus Day

October 16: * Pitkin, Chapter 10, pp. 209-240

Week Nine

October 21: Pitkin, cont.

October 23: * Anne Phillips, “Taking Difference Seriously,” from Which Inequalities Matter, pp. 20-43

Week Ten

October28: * Lani Guinier, “Groups, Representation, and Race-Conscious Districting: A Case of the Emperor’s Clothes,” from The Tyranny of the Majority, pp. 119-156

October 30: Guinier, cont.

Week Eleven

November 4: *Iris Marion Young, “Representation and Social Perspective,” from Inclusion and Democracy, pp. 121-153

November 6: Young, cont.

Week Twelve

Gender, Activism, Work, and the Law

November 11: * Judith A. Baer, “Is Law Male?” from Our Lives Before the Law, pp. 16-38

November 13: Baer, cont.

Week Thirteen

November 18: * Baer, “How is Law Male?” pp. 71-94

November 20: Baer, cont.

Week Fourteen

November 25: * Deborah L. Rhode, “Equality in Form and Equality in Fact: Women and Work,” from Justice and Gender, pp. 161-201

November 27: NO CLASS—Thanksgiving Break

Week Fifteen

December 2: * Anne Phillips, “Does Economic Equality Matter?” from Which Inequalities Matter? pp. 44-73

December 4: * Kimberle Crenshaw, “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex,” from Feminist Legal Theory, pp. 383-395

Week Sixteen

December 9: * Patricia Hill Collins, “Rethinking Black Women’s Activism,” from Black Feminist Thought, pp. 201-225

December 11: Last Day of Class