Fall Semester 2007
Women in Politics
Political Science Y324 (POLS – Y 324)
Dr. Bessie House-Soremekun
Course meets 4:30-5:45 MW
Room 504A Cavanaugh Hall
Political Science Department
This course will examine the role of women in politics in the United States
and also in the developing world. We will discuss theoretical issues inherent
in an examination of the role of women in the American political system by
examining both the roles of majority and minority women. We will
interrogate the literature by examining the interrelationships and ongoing
dynamics between race, class, and gender and will demonstrate that women
cannot be viewed as a monolithic category. On the contrary, women’s roles
and behaviors, both politically and economically, have been influenced by a
host of factors, both in the past and present time periods.
We will discuss basic assumptions of feminist theory, as well as some of the
basic propositions put forth with regard to Black feminist thought. We will
also examine gender differences in political attitudes and voting; the role of
women, media and group politics; the continuous challenges that women
face with regard to their participation in local, statewide and national
elections; the role of women in the legislative arenas and in the court
systems, as well as the intersection between gender issues and the
formulation of public policy. We will analyze women’s political roles
internationally by examining the political behaviors and activities of women
in Kenya, which is located in East Africa. Last, we will conclude with a
discussion of positive strategies that women can incorporate both here and
abroad to enhance their own self-empowerment.
This course has three main goals:
1. To provide a basic understanding of the major issues inherent in an
analysis of the role of women in politics in the United States and in
the developing world.
2. To enhance the critical abilities of students
3. To enable students to understand the theoretical and empirical
underpinnings of women in politics in the 20th and 21st centuries.
Expectations, Grading and Class Attendance
Students are expected to attend classes on a regular basis and to be punctual.
Persistent tardiness will not be tolerated. You are also expected to read class
assignments before the topic is presented and discussed in class. Class
discussion and participation is highly regarded in this class. You are also
encouraged to keep current on women’s activities by watching the news on a
regular basis, reading newspapers, and magazine articles. Grades will be
based on two midterms, a final examination, and a term paper, and class
participation. Students are expected to take examinations at scheduled times.
Makeup exams will not be given except in cases of verifiable medical
Lois Duke Whitaker, Women in Politics: Outsiders or Insiders (4th Edition)
Patricia Hill Collins, Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness,
and the Politics of Empowerment (3rd Edition)
M. Margaret Conway, David Ahern, and Gertrude Steuernagel, Women and
Public Policy: A Revolution in Progress
In addition to the above, the Political Science department also requires that
students in all classes purchase a research paper guide. This guide can be
purchased in the university bookstore.
Other materials on the syllabus will be posted on the course website for you
to print out, but you can also access the readings in the reserve section of the
University Library and in the political science department.
A term paper is required. Each student will write a 10-12 page paper on an
aspect of women in politics. Your paper topic must be approved by the
professor before you start writing your paper. The paper must be typed and
double-spaced. Although there are clearly many topic areas that you can
write about, one topic that might be of interest is a paper which deals with
Female Candidates which have run in the past or are currently running for
political office for the President of the United States position or for the Vice
President slot. This paper could encompass an analysis of former
presidential candidate Shirley Chisholm, former Vice Presidential
Candidate, Geraldine Ferraro, and now currently, the activities of Hillary
Clinton, as she runs her political campaign to become her party’s nominee
for the number one slot on the presidential ticket for 2008. This paper could
address how viable these candidates really were in the context of the
American political system. Do most female voters support other female
candidates? How does the gender gap fit into this scenario of electing female
candidates to top positions of power? What can we predict for the future?
Are female candidates treated in the same way as their male counterparts?
These are only a few of the areas that such a paper could address. Term
papers are due on Wednesday of week 15.
The final grade will be based on scores of the two midterm exams,
examinations, a final examination, the term paper, and class participation.
Midterm I 20%
Midterm II 20%
Final Exam 20%
Class Participation 10%
Term Paper 30%
Grades will be based on the following scale:
A+ 98, A 93, A- 90, B+ 88, B 83, B- 80, C+ 78, C 73, C- 70, D+ 68, D 63,
D- 60 Below F
Students with Disabilities
Indiana University Purdue University policy supports the 1990 Americans
with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation
Act of 1973. These laws call for the elimination of discrimination against
persons with disabilities. These laws mandate that persons with disabilities
receive equal treatment with regard to employment, public services and
transportation, public accommodations and telecommunications services and
include an obligation to provide reasonable accommodations to those with
either physical or mental limitations because of disabilities. Adaptive
Educational Services (AES) provides accommodations for students who
need special assistance because of their disabilities. You may call AES at
274-3241 or visit www.life.iupui.edu/aes/ for additional information.
Student Code of Conduct
It is our expectation that all students at IUPUI will abide by the requirements
that are discussed in the Student Code of Conduct
(http://www.iupui.edu/code.). Cheating on examinations and/or plagiarism
will not be tolerated. You are also not allowed to submit a paper in this class
that has been used for another class. Any student found guilty of the above
will be dealt with as outlined by IUPUI guidelines.
Course Outline and Reading Assignments
Week 1—August 20-24
Introduction: Women, Equality and Feminist Theory
Intro Comments, Women in Politics, pgs. 1-3.
Jennifer King, “Feminist Theory as Seeing”, in Women in Politics:
Outsiders or Insiders by Lois Duke Whitaker, pgs. 4-16
Nancie J. Caraway, “The Riddle of Consciousness: Racism and Identity in
Feminist Theory”, in Women in Politics: Outsiders or Insiders by Lois Duke
Whitaker, pgs. 17-30.
Discussion Questions: Why do we need to study about women? What does
Jennifer King mean when she speaks of using feminist theory as “a way of
seeing”? What role does theory play in helping us to understand women’s
struggles across time and space? Can women be viewed as a monolithic
category? How does an understanding of the interrelationship between race,
class, and gender inform our analysis?
Week 2—August 27-31
Women and Politics
Gender Differences in Political Attitudes and Voting
Intro comments, Women in Politics, pgs. 31-32.
Gertrude Steuernagel, Maureen Oakley, et. al, “Rethinking Pink and Blue:
Gender, Occupational Stratification, and Political Attitudes”, pgs. 33-44 in
Women in Politics: Outsiders or Insiders by Lois Duke Whitaker.
Cal and Janet Clark, “The Gender Gap in the Early 21st Century: Volatility
from Security Concerns” in Women in Politics: Outsiders or Insiders by Lois
Duke Whitaker, pgs. 43-64.
Cynthia Burack, “The New Right in American Politics: What do Women
Have to Do with It?” in Women in Politics: Outsiders or Insiders, edited by
Lois Duke Whitaker, pgs. 65-78.
Discussion Questions: What does the data tell us about occupational
segregation in America? What do the authors mean by the term, “pink collar
ghettos? According to the authors of your assigned readings, what does the
data tell us about the effects of occupational segregation on political
attitudes and values? How does the gender gap manifest itself in the 21 st
century elections? How does the gender gap compare to other types of
political cleavages in the American political system? How does the gender
gap in the 21st century affect security concerns facing the United States?
What are some of the continuing issue differences between men and
women? What is the main thesis of Cynthia Bursack in her discussion on
“The New Right in American Politics: What do Women Have to Do with
It?” What conclusions does she make? Do you agree or disagree with her
Week 3—September 3-7
Women, Media, and Group Politics
Intro comments, Women in Politics, pgs. 79-80/
Lois Duke Whitaker, “Women and Sex Stereotypes: Cultural Reflections in
the Mass Media,” in Women in Politics: Outsiders or Insiders, pgs. 81-95.
Dorothy Baer, “What Kind of Women’s Movement? Community,
Representation, and Resurgence” in Women in Politics: Outsiders or
Insiders, pgs. 96-114.
Discussion Questions: What are mediated realities? How have women been
portrayed by the mass media? What impact has this portrayal had on
women’s successes and challenges in America? According to the writers of
these assigned readings, how are specific agendas passed through the media?
What myths and stereotypes about women are portrayed in the media? What
are social movements? How has women’s condition in society been
influenced by the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Rights Movement,
the Suffrage Movement, and the Equal Rights Movement?
Week 4—September 10-14
The Social Construction of Black Feminist Thought
Patricia Hills Collins, chapter 1, “The Politics of Black Feminist Thought”,
Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of
Empowerment, pgs. 1-19.
Patricia Hills Collins, chapter 2, “Distinguishing Features of Black Feminist
Thought,” pgs. 21-43.
Patricia Hills Collins, chapter 3, “Women, Family, and Black Women’s
Oppression,” pgs. 45-67.
Discussion Questions: What is Black Feminist thought and why does Collins
feel it is important to understand Black feminist ideas and constructs? What
are the key features of Black feminist thought? How does Black Feminism
differ from mainstream feminism? How has Black women’s work and
family demands influenced their participation in society?
Week 5—September 17-21
Core Themes in Black Feminist Thought
Patricia Hills Collins, chapter 4, “Mammies, Matriarchs, and Other
Controlling Images”, pgs. 70-96.
Patricia Hills Collins, chapter 5, “The Power of Self-Definition”, pgs. 97-
Patricia Hills Collins, chapter 6, “The Sexual Politics of Black
Womanhood”, pgs. 123-148,
Patricia Hills Collins, Chapter 7, “Rethinking Black Women’s Activism”,
Discussion Questions: What are the controlling images which mediate
Black women’s participation in American society? Are these images static
or have they changed across time and space? What does it mean to have the
power of self-definition? What does Collins discuss with regard to the sexual
politics of black womanhood? How can we reconceptualize or rethink Black
women’s political activism across time and space?
Midterm Exam I will be passed out on Wednesday of this week and will be
due back to the professor by Monday of next week. Answers must be typed
Week 6—September 24-28
Women in Politcs: The Uphill Struggle
Intro comments, Women in Politics, pgs. 115-116.
Susan MacManus, Charles Bullock, et. al, ‘Women Winning at the Local
Level : Are County and School Board Positions Becoming More Desirable
and Plugging the Pipeline to Higher Office”, in Women in Politics, cspgs.
Joanne V. Hawks and Carolyn Staton, “On the Eve of the Transition:
Women in Southern Legislatures, 1946-1968”, in Women in Politics:
Outsiders or Insiders, pgs. 137-163.
Discussion Questions: What factors have influenced women’s ability to win
elections at the local level of analysis? How have women fared in Southern
legislative arenas from 1946-1968? What can women do differently to
achieve more electoral success? What is the current data with regard to
women’s political participation at the local level in 2007?
Week 7—October 1-5
Legislatures, Women and Policy Making
Intro comments, Women in Politics, pgs. 162-163.
Jennifer Lawless and Sean Theriault, “Women in the U.S. Congress: From
Entry to Exit,” in Women in Politics: Outsiders or Insiders, pgs. 164-181.
Sarah Poggione, “Women State Legislators: Descriptive and Substantive
Representation”, in Women in Politics: Outsiders or Insiders, pgs. 182-198.
Discussion Questions: How would you characterize women’s involvement
in the U.S. Congress? How has women’s roles as legislators played out in
the contemporary era? How many female legislators are there in 2007?
Week 8—October 8=12
The Executive Branch: Women and Leadership
Intro comments, Women in Politics, page 199
Marcia Lynn Whitaker and Hedy Isaacs, “Gendering the Political
Executive’s Space: The Changing Landscape?”, in Women in Politics:
Outsiders or Insiders, pgs. 201-209.
Robert Watson, “First Ladies and Their Influence on Politics, Policy, and the
Presidency”, in Women in Politics: Outsiders or Insiders , pgs. 210-225.
Sara Weir, “Women Governors in the 21st Century: Re-Examining the
Pathways to the Presidency”, in Women in Politics: Outsiders or Insiders,
Discussion Questions: How can we gender the political space at the
executive level of analysis? What influence have America’s first ladies
really had on the political, economic, and cultural realms of society? Which
first ladies have been most influential in the post-world war II period and
Week 9—October 15-19
The Courts: Women and Decisions
Intro comments, Women in Politics, pgs. 238-239.
Karen O’Connor, “Litigating for Social Change: The Role of Women’s
Groups in Advancing Women’s Rights”, in Women in Politics: Outsiders or
Insiders, pgs. 240-254.
Elaine Martin, “Bias or Counterbalance: Women Judges Making a
Difference”, in Women in Politics: Outsiders or Insiders, pgs. 255-271.
Discussion Questions: How have women influenced the courts and the legal
arena in the United States? How have they advocated for advancing
women’s rights in the 21st century?
Midterm Exam II will be passed out on Wednesday of this week and will be
due back to the professor on next Monday. The answers must be double-
spaced and typed.
Weeks 10—11 October 22-November 2
Women and Public Policy
Readings for Week 10
“Women and Public Policy” in Women and Public Policy: A Revolution in
Progress by M. Margaret Conway, David Ahern and Gertrude Steuernagel,
“Women and Educational Policy” in Women and Public Policy: A
Revolution in Progress , by Conway, et. al, pgs. 19-43
“Women and Healthcare Policy” in Women and Public Policy: A Revolution
in Progress by Conway, et. al, pgs. 45-67.
Discussion Questions: What is public policy? What impacts have changed
educational policies had on women’s status and roles? What does the author
focus on in her analysis of women and healthcare policy issues?
Readings for Week 11
“Women and Employment Policy” in Women and Public Policy: A
Revolution in Progress, pgs. 90-121.
“Women and Family Law: Marriage and Divorce” in Women and Public
Policy: A Revolution in Progress, by Conway, et. al, pgs. 141-168.
Discussion Questions: What are the essential areas of equal opportunity
policy that continue to impact on women’s participation in the society and in
the wage-sector economy? What special rights and challenges do women
encounter with regard to marital and divorce laws in the United States?
Week 12 November 5-9
Public Policy: The Feminist Perspective, intro comments, pgs. 272-273 in
Women in Politics: Outsiders or Insiders
Joan Thompson, “Working Women and Their Families: The Family and
Medical Leave Act versus the Family Time Flexibility Act” in Women in
Politics: Outsiders or Insiders, pgs. 274-300/
Ruth Bamberger, “Sex at Risk in Insurance Classifications? The Supreme
Court as Shaper of Public Policy” in Women in Politics: Outsiders or
Insiders, pgs. 301-310/
Roberta Ann Johnson, “Affirmative Action and Women”, in Women and
Politics: Outsiders or Insiders, pgs. 311-331.
Discussion Questions: What were the essential features of the Family and
Medical Leave Act in comparison to the Family Time Flexibility Act? How
has affirmative action impacted on women’s status and roles?
Week 13—November 12-16
Women, Empowerment, and Cultural Expression
Intro Comments, Women in Politics: Outsiders or Insiders, pgs. 332-333.
Kathleen Iannello, “The Political is Personal: Third-Wave Feminist
Perspectives on Power” in Women in Politics: Outsiders or Insiders, pgs.
D’Ann Campbell, “Inside or Outside: Women’s Role in American Military
History”, in Women in Politics: Outsiders or Insiders, pgs. 346-362.
Elizabeth Kelly, “Grounds for Criticism: Coffee, Passion, and the Politics of
Feminist Discourse”, in Women in Politics: Outsiders or Insiders , pgs. 363-
Discussion Questions: Describe women’s roles in the American military
throughout history. What are third wave feminist perspectives on the issue of
Weeks 14-15: November 19-30
Wednesday, November 21 Thanksgiving Holiday Break begins—No class
Women in Politics in the International Global Economy
Readings for Week 14
Bessie House-Soremekun, “Women Under Colonial Rule”, in Africa: The
End of Colonial Rule, edited by Toyin Falola, pgs. 89-108. (On Reserve in
the Political Science department and the university library
Bessie House-Midamba, Class Development and Gender Inequality in
Kenya, selected chapters on reserve in the university library and the political
Discussion Questions: What factors motivated Europeans to colonize
Africa? Describe the sexual division of labor in Africa and explore how it
was affected by colonialism. What types of political strategies did African
women use to promote political change in their societies? Discuss the role of
class and gender in Kenyan society. What cultural factors influenced Kenyan
women’s involvement in the political arena? How does class and ethnicity
impact on women’s political status and roles?
Readings for Week 15
Bessie House-Midamba, “The United Nations Decade: Political
Empowerment or Increased Marginalization for Kenyan Women,” Africa
Today Journal, on reserve in the university library and the political science
Bessie House-Soremekun, “Gender, Democratization, and Associational
Life in Kenya”, Africa Today Journal, on reserve in the university library
and the political science department
Discussion Question: What role did the first and second United Nations
Decades for Women have on improving women’s roles and status on a
global scale and how did it specifically affect women in Kenya? Describe
women’s political involvement in the post-colonial period. How did
women’s organizations help advance the cause of women? What strategies
have Kenyan women used both individually and collectively in their
struggles for change?
Term Papers are due on Wednesday of Week 15
Week 16: December 3-7
Conclusions: Women and Politics in the New Millennium
Patricia Hills Collins, chapter 10, “US Black Feminism in Transnational
Context,” pgs. 227-250.
Patricia Hills Collins, chapter 12, “Toward a Politics of Empowerment”,
Discussion Questions: What does Collins examine with regard to US Black
Feminism in a Transnational Context? What strategies can women use all
over the world to enhance their status and help other women in the global
Last Day of Classes is December 10, 2007
Week 17: Final Examination Week
Final Exam for this class is Monday, December 17, 2007 from 3:30-5:30
in our same room