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Barbara F. Vucanovich
From Nevada to Congress, and Back Again
Barbara F. Vucanovich
University of Nevada Press, 2014
Barbara Vucanovich was sixty-two when she ran in her first election, becoming the first woman ever elected to a federal office from Nevada. In this engaging memoir, written with her daughter, she reflects on the road that led her to Washington--her years as mother, businesswoman, and volunteer.

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Capitol Women
Texas Female Legislators, 1923-1999
By Nancy Baker Jones and Ruthe Winegarten
University of Texas Press, 2000

Along with bar rooms and bordellos, there has hardly been a more male-focused institution in Texas history than the Texas Legislature. Yet the eighty-six women who have served there have made a mark on the institution through the legislation they have passed, much of which addresses their concerns as citizens who have been inadequately represented by male lawmakers.

This first complete record of the women of the Texas Legislature places such well-known figures as Kay Bailey Hutchison, Sissy Farenthold, Barbara Jordan, Irma Rangel, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Susan Combs, and Judith Zaffirini in the context of their times and among the women and men with whom they served. Drawing on years of primary research and interviews, Nancy Baker Jones and Ruthe Winegarten offer concise biographies and profiles of all eighty-six women who have served or currently hold office in the Texas Legislature.

The biographies describe the women lawmakers' lives, campaign strategies, and legislative successes and defeats. Four introductory essays provide historical and cultural context for the biographies, which are arranged chronologically to give a sense of the passage of time, of relationships among and between women, and of the issues of their eras.


The Ohio State University Press, 2006

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Dawn Clark Netsch
A Political Life
Cynthia Grant Bowman
Northwestern University Press, 2010

Illinois Democratic politics has recently produced the most skilled and inspirational politician in memory . . . and has also reminded us of the need for further reform. It is fitting, then, that the latest installment of the Chicago Lives series turns to Dawn Clark Netsch, a leading reformer of Illinois politics since the 1950s and the first woman major party nominee for governor of Illinois.

Netsch was a pioneer, or the first of her gender, in almost every endeavor she undertook. From the very beginning of her career, when she led the move to desegregate Northwestern University's undergraduate dorms, her passion for social justice extended beyond the rights of women to rights for racial minorities and those of all sexual orientations. Bowman charts Dawn Clark Netsch's remarkable political career, from her work behind the scenes as assistant to Governor Otto Kerner and as a participant in the 1970 Constitutional Convention to her later service in elected office, first as Illinois state senator for eighteen years and later as Illinois comptroller, and culminating in her historic run for governor in 1994. Throughout, Netsch lost neither her genteel yet unpretentious demeanor, nor her passion for progressive politics as exemplified by her early mentor, Governor Adlai E. Stevenson.


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The Difference Women Make
The Policy Impact of Women in Congress
Michele L. Swers
University of Chicago Press, 2002
What if there were more women in Congress? Providing the first comprehensive study of the policy activity of male and female legislators at the federal level, Michele L. Swers persuasively demonstrates that, even though representatives often vote a party line, their gender is politically significant and does indeed influence policy making.

Swers combines quantitative analyses of bills with interviews with legislators and their staff to compare legislative activity on women's issues by male and female members of the House of Representatives during the 103rd (1993-94) and 104th (1995-96) Congresses. Tracking representatives' commitment to women's issues throughout the legislative process, from the introduction of bills through committee consideration to final floor votes, Swers examines how the prevailing political context and members' positions within Congress affect whether and how aggressively they pursue women's issues.

Anyone studying congressional behavior, the role of women, or the representation of social identities in Congress will benefit from Swers's balanced and nuanced analysis.

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Don't Let the Fire Go Out!
Jean Carnahan
University of Missouri Press, 2004
The slogan Don’t Let the Fire Go Out! became the guiding force for Jean Carnahan as she confronted life’s challenges after her husband, son, and longtime friend were killed in a plane crash on October 16, 2000. The wife of Mel Carnahan, the well-known and highly respected Missouri governor and popular leader of the Democratic Party, Jean Carnahan made history when she agreed to serve in the U.S. Senate after Missouri voters elected her husband to the position posthumously. Don’t Let the Fire Go Out! is a fascinating and compelling look at the life of this amazingly strong woman.
Although the emphasis in this book is on the years 2000 through 2002—as Carnahan survived the tragic deaths of her loved ones and made her push forward with the campaign to fill what would have been her husband’s Senate seat—it also covers her family, her years of growing up in the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, D.C., and her marriage to Mel Carnahan. She offers a rare, behind-the-scenes look at life in the Governor’s Mansion during her years as Missouri’s First Lady. The book also provides insight into Mel Carnahan’s devotion to public service. Jean Carnahan recounts her own introduction to the U.S. Senate, her struggle with the decision to vote against the confirmation of John Ashcroft as attorney general, her interactions with other senators, the loss of her Missouri farmhome to fire, a trip to Afghanistan, her reelection defeat in 2002, and countless other experiences that shaped her life and thought.
Don’t Let the Fire Go Out! is an intimate and revealing memoir of an extraordinary woman who overcame great tragedy to become the first woman from Missouri to serve as a United States senator. Resilient, intelligent, and charming, Jean Carnahan will inspire all who read her remarkable story.

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Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon
Suffragist, Senator, Plural Wife
Constance L. Lieber
Signature Books, 2022
Martha Hughes Cannon (1857–1932) may best be known as the first female state senator in the United States, elected in Utah in 1896, nearly a quarter century before most women in the country could vote. She was also a suffragist, physician, gifted speaker, plural wife, faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and mother of three. This short biography examines what drove Cannon to accomplish so much. Following two periods of self-imposed exile to avoid prosecution for polygamy, and a subsequent career in partisan politics, she died in California, surrounded by her children and grandchildren but virtually forgotten by the larger world. She had much to say during her lifetime and has much to say to us today about persevering in spite of adversity. Constance Lieber chronicles the important story of one of the American West’s and Mormonism’s most intriguing characters.

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My Story
Geraldine Ferraro with Linda Bird Francke and with a foreword by Marie Wilson
Northwestern University Press, 2004
In this memoir, Geraldine A. Ferraro reflects on her experience as the first and only woman nominated by a major party to run on the presidential ticket. This book reveals the process that led to her nomination as the 1984 Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate and gives a revealing behind-the-scenes look at campaign politics, especially the ruthless criticism directed at her and her family. Ferraro brings to life the dynamics of the women in Congress and how the different life experiences that they bring to the table affect the policy making process. She also gives a real understanding of the pioneering women, including Bella Abzug, Gloria Steinem, Millie Jeffrey and many others who worked together to make sure that a women was on the Democratic ticket in 1984.

Ferraro's run for vice-president was an important moment in American history. The time is right for telling a new generation this story of women's collective political power and the difference women office holders can and do make to public policy.

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Gender in Campaigns for the U.S. House of Representatives
Barbara Burrell
University of Michigan Press, 2014
Barbara Burrell presents a comprehensive comparative examination of men's and women’s candidacies for the U.S. House of Representatives in elections from 1994 through 2012. Analyzing extensive data sets on all major party candidates for 10 elections—covering candidate status, party affiliation, fund-raising, candidate background variables, votes obtained, and success rates for both primary and general elections—Burrell finds little evidence of categorical discrimination against women candidates. Women compete equally with men and often outpace them in raising money, gaining interest group and political party support, and winning elections.

Yet the number of women elected to the U.S. House has expanded only incrementally. The electoral structure limits opportunities for newcomers to win congressional seats and there remains a lower presence of women in winnable contests despite growing recruitment efforts. Burrell suggests that congressional dysfunction discourages potential candidates from pursuing legislative careers and that ambitious women are finding alternative paths to influence and affect public policy.

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The Governor and the Colonel
A Dual Biography of William P. Hobby and Oveta Culp Hobby
By Don Carleton
University of Texas Press, 2020

William P. “Will” Hobby Sr. and Oveta Culp Hobby were one of the most influential couples in Texas history. Both were major public figures, with Will serving as governor of Texas and Oveta as the first commander of the Women’s Army Corps and later as the second woman to serve in a presidential cabinet. Together, they built a pioneering media empire centered on the Houston Post and their broadcast properties, and they played a significant role in the transformation of Houston into the fourth largest city in the United States. Don Carleton’s dual biography details their personal and professional relationship—defined by a shared dedication to public service—and the important roles they each played in local, state, and national events throughout the twentieth century.

This deeply researched book not only details this historically significant partnership, but also explores the close relationships between the Hobbys and key figures in twentieth-century history, from Texas legends such as LBJ, Sam Rayburn, and Jesse Jones, to national icons, including the Roosevelts, President Eisenhower, and the Rockefellers. Carleton's chronicle reveals the undeniable impact of the Hobbys on journalistic and political history in the United States.


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A Great Restlessness
The Life and Politics of Dorise Nielsen
Faith Johnston
University of Manitoba Press, 2006
Dorise Nielsen was a pioneering feminist, a radical politician, the first Communist elected to Canadaís House of Commons, and the only woman elected in 1940. But despite her remarkable career, until now little has been known about her.From her youth in London during World War I to her burial in 1980 in a heroís cemetery in China, Nielsen lived through tumultuous times. Struggling through the Great Depression as a homesteaderís wife in rural Saskatchewan, Nielsen rebelled against the poverty and injustice that surrounded her, and found like-minded activists in the CCF and the Communist Party of Canada. In 1940 when leaders of the Communist Party were either interned or underground, Nielsen became their voice in Parliament. But her activism came at a high price. As a single mother in Ottawa, she sacrificed a close relationship with her family for her career. As a woman in an emerging political organisation, her authority was increasingly usurped by younger male party members. As a committed communist, she moved to Mao's China in 1957 and dedicated her lifeís work to a cause that went seriously awry.Faith Johnston illuminates the life of a woman who paved the way for a generation of women in politics, who tried to be both a good mother and a good revolutionary, and who refused to give up on either.

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Helen Ring Robinson
Colorado Senator and Suffragist
Pat Pascoe
University Press of Colorado, 2011
No strangers to frontier conditions, the family used their expertise as miners, surveyors, land speculators, and lawyers to erect cabins, stake their claims, and survey and lay plans for a new town. From these experiences they prepared a set of laws -- in

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Isabella Greenway
An Enterprising Woman
Kristie Miller
University of Arizona Press, 2004
She was at home on the western range and in New York salons. An energetic entrepreneur who managed a ranch, an airline, and a resort. A politician who became a key player in the New Deal. Isabella Greenway blazed a trail for remarkable women in Arizona politics today, from Janet Napolitano to Sandra Day O'Connor. Now Kristie Miller offers an intimate view of this extraordinary woman.

Isabella Greenway's life was linked with both Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Her infancy was spent on a snow-swept ranch in North Dakota, where young TR was a neighbor and a friend. In her teens, she captivated Edith Wharton's New York as a glamorous debutante. A bridesmaid in the wedding of Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt, Isabella was the bride of Robert Ferguson, a Scottish nobleman and one of TR's Rough Riders. They went west when he developed tuberculosis; after his death, she married his fellow Rough Rider, Arizona copper magnate John Greenway.

In Tucson, the energetic Isabella ran an airline, worked with disabled veterans, and founded the world-famous Arizona Inn. When the Great Depression brought hard times, Eleanor Roosevelt recruited Isabella to work for the Democratic Party. Isabella played a decisive role in Franklin Roosevelt's nomination to the presidency in 1932; the New York Times called her "the most-talked-of woman at the National Democratic Convention." She was elected to Congress as Arizona's only US Representative, and again drew national media attention when she challenged FDR for not being sufficiently progressive.

Miller's meticulous biography captures a life of adventure and romance, from southern tobacco country to the ballrooms of New York, from western ranches to the dome of the US Capitol. She shows national politics played out behind the scenes, Isabella's lifelong friendship with Eleanor Roosevelt, and the drama of a loyal wife caring for a dying husband despite having fallen in love with a younger man. The book also shows Greenway's considerable influence on the development of Arizona's business and politics in the early decades of statehood. Although Isabella Greenway died in 1953, the Arizona Inn—a tribute to her enterprise—remains a premier resort hotel, celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2005. This book, too, celebrates Isabella's energy, vision, indomitable spirit, and love of life.

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Jeannette Rankin
A Political Woman
James J. Lopach
University Press of Colorado, 2015
"If I had my life to live over, I would do it all again, but this time I would be nastier."
—Jeannette Rankin (1880-1973)

Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to Congress, stands tall among American icons. The representative from Montana won her seat at a time when women didn't have the right to vote in most states. Her firm stances inspired both admiration and fury across party lines, and she gained nearly canonical status among feminists and pacifists. In Jeannette Rankin: A Political Woman, James Lopach and Jean Luckowski demythologize Rankin, showing her to be a talented, driven, and deeply divided woman.

Until now, no biography has explored Rankin's inconsistencies. The authors extensively consulted the correspondence of her family members and contemporaries, uncovering ties between her politics and her familial and personal relationships. They reveal how she succeeded through her wealthy brother's influence as well as her own extraordinary efforts; how she drew inspiration not from her rural roots but from the radical hotbed of Greenwich Village; and how she championed an independent, woman-centered life while deferring to family.

Revealing her complexities along with her accomplishments, Jeannette Rankin: A Political Woman will be the definitive biography of this path-breaking politician for years to come.

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The Latina Advantage
Gender, Race, and Political Success
By Christina E. Bejarano
University of Texas Press, 2013

During the past decade, racial/ethnic minority women have made significant strides in U.S. politics, comprising large portions of their respective minority delegations both in Congress and in state legislatures. This trend has been particularly evident in the growing political presence of Latinas, yet scholars have offered no clear explanations for this electoral phenomenon—until now.

In The Latina Advantage, Christina E. Bejarano draws on national public opinion datasets and a close examination of state legislative candidates in Texas and California to demonstrate the new power of the political intersection between race and gender. Underscoring the fact that racial/ethnic minority women form a greater share of minority representatives than do white women among white elected officials, Bejarano provides empirical evidence to substantiate previous theoretical predictions of the strategic advantage in the intersectionality of gender and ethnicity in Latinas. Her evidence indicates that two factors provide the basis for the advantage: increasingly qualified candidates and the softening of perceived racial threat, leading minority female candidates to encounter fewer disadvantages than their male counterparts.

Overturning the findings of classic literature that reinforce stereotypes and describe minority female political candidates as being at a compounded electoral disadvantage, Bejarano brings a crucial new perspective to dialogues about the rapidly shifting face of America’s electorate.


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Millicent Fenwick
Her Way
Schapiro, Amy
Rutgers University Press, 2003

Amy Schapiro has written the first biography of Millicent Fenwick, the popular and colorful New Jersey congresswoman. Affectionately remembered as the pipe-smoking grandmother who served as the model for Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury character Lacey Davenport, Fenwick defied such simplistic expectations to become, in the words of Walter Cronkite, “the conscience of Congress.” 

Born in 1910 into comfortable circumstances, Fenwick faced tragedy at an early age when her mother was lost in the sinking of the Lusitania. Following an upper-class childhood and a failed marriage, she began a fourteen-year career at Vogue magazine.

In the 1960s, Fenwick became involved in the civil rights movement and took part in local and state politics in New Jersey. Blessed with striking good looks and a sharp wit, she cut a glamorous figure, rising quickly through the ranks of the state Republican Party at a time when most of her peers were retiring. When this colorful, outspoken figure—one of only five New Jersey women ever elected to Congress— went to Washington in 1974 at age sixty-four, her victory was portrayed by the media as a “geriatric triumph.”

Schapiro’s extensive interviews with Fenwick’s son, Hugh, who granted her exclusive rights to Fenwick’s personal papers, oral histories, letters, and photographs, provide rare insight into the life and career of one of America’s most memorable politicians.


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No Place for a Woman
A Life of Senator Margaret Chase Smith
Sherman, Janann
Rutgers University Press, 1999

No Place for a Woman is the first biography to analyze Margaret Chase Smith’s life and times by using politics and gender as the lens through which we can understand this Maine senator’s impact on American politics and American women. Sherman’s research is based upon more than one hundred hours of personal interviews with Senator Smith, and extensive research in primary and government documents, including those from the holdings of the Margaret Chase Smith Library.


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The Only Woman in the Room
The Norma Paulus Story
Norma Paulus
Oregon State University Press, 2017
Norma Petersen Paulus grew up Depression-poor in Eastern Oregon, survived a bout with polio in her teens, taught herself to be a legal secretary, and graduated from law school with honors despite not attending college first. Anyone with such a story would be remarkable, but she was just getting started.
Paulus came from a family of Roosevelt Democrats, but when a friend campaigned for a Republican seat in the state legislature, she switched parties. As she put it, “The Republicans were in politics for all the right reasons.” Amid the nationwide political upheavals of the late 1960s, Oregon’s Republicans, led by popular governor Tom McCall, seemed to be her kind of people—principled, pragmatic, and committed to education, the environment, and equality for all citizens under the law.
Paulus’s appointment by Governor McCall to the Marion-Polk Boundary Commission in 1969, a precursor to Oregon’s urban growth boundaries, helped launched her on a long and distinguished career of public service. She ran successfully for the Oregon House of Representatives in 1970, the first women to do so in the district. After three terms in the House, where she championed environmental causes, women’s rights and government transparency, she was elected Oregon’s Secretary of State in 1976—the first woman to hold that office and be elected to a statewide office in Oregon. She was the Republican candidate for governor in 1986, served a stint on the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, went on to become Oregon’s superintendent of public instruction, and headed the Oregon Historical Society.
During her years of public service, spanning the 1970s through the early 2000s, Norma Paulus occupied a distinctive niche in Oregon’s progressive political ecosystem. Her vivid personality and strong convictions endeared her to a broad swath of citizens. Beautiful and opinionated, charming and forceful, Paulus was widely covered in statewide and national newspapers and television during her eventful, sometimes controversial career. Now, The Only Woman in the Room sums up her life and work in a lively, anecdotal history that will appeal to historians, political scientists, newshounds, and ordinary citizens alike.

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A Centennial History of Arkansas Women Legislators, 1922-2022
Lindsley Armstrong Smith
University of Arkansas Press, 2022
Celebrating the centenary of women legislators’ membership in the Arkansas General Assembly, Stateswomen shines a light on the women who have served as some of the state’s central decision makers. Drawing on documentary research and oral histories, Lindsley Armstrong Smith and Stephen A. Smith present lively, concise biographies for the nearly 150 women legislators who have served in the general assembly to date, chronicling their personal histories, volunteer work and social activism, and legislative victories. In a probing introduction, the authors examine the neglected role of women in Arkansas political history alongside the “long history of resistance to full citizenship rights for women in Arkansas”—demonstrating that political representation is essential for improving opportunities in the wider society.

The first comprehensive study dedicated to these trailblazing Arkansas legislators, Stateswomen will surely inspire history buffs, community-minded citizens, and political hopefuls alike.

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Walking the Gendered Tightrope
Theresa May and Nancy Pelosi as Legislative Leaders
Melissa Haussman and Karen M. Kedrowski
University of Michigan Press, 2023
Walking the Gendered Tightrope analyzes the gendered expectations for women in high offices through the examples of British Prime Minister Theresa May and U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Even at their highest positions, and while completing their greatest achievements, both May and Pelosi faced gendered critiques and intraparty challenges to their leadership. While other books have analyzed the barriers to higher office that women face, this book reveals how women in positions of power are still forced to balance feminine stereotypes with the perception of power as masculine in order to prove their legitimacy. By examining intraparty dynamics, this book offers a unique comparison between a majoritarian presidential and Westminster parliamentary system. While their parties promoted Pelosi and May to highlight their progressive values, both women faced continually gendered critiques about their abilities to lead their caucuses on difficult policy issues, such as the Affordable Care Act and two Trump impeachment votes for Nancy Pelosi, or finishing Brexit for Theresa May. Grounded in the legislative literature from the United States and Britain, as well as historical accounts and personal interviews, Walking the Gendered Tightrope contributes to the fields of gender and politics, legislative studies, American politics, and British politics. 

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Winning Their Place
Arizona Women in Politics, 1883-1950
Heidi J. Osselaer
University of Arizona Press, 2009
In January 1999, five women were elected to the highest offices in Arizona, including governor, secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer, and superintendent of public instruction. The “Fab Five,” as they were dubbed by the media, were sworn in by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, herself a former member of the Arizona legislature. Some observers assumed that the success of women in Arizona politics was a result of the modern women’s movement, but Winning Their Place convincingly demonstrates that these recent political victories have a long and fascinating history.

This landmark book chronicles for the first time the participation of Arizona women in the state’s early politics. Incorporating impressive original research, Winning Their Place traces the roots of the political participation of women from the territorial period to after World War II. Although women in Arizona first entered politics for traditional reasons—to reform society and protect women and children—they quickly realized that male politicians were uninterested in their demands. Most suffrage activists were working professional women, who understood that the work place discriminated against them. In Arizona they won the vote because they demanded rights as working women and aligned with labor unions and third parties that sympathized with their cause. After winning the vote, the victorious suffragists ran for office because they believed men could not and would not represent their interests.

Through this process, these Arizona women became excellent politicians. Unlike women in many other states, women in Arizona quickly carved out a place for themselves in local and state politics, even without the support of the reigning Democratic Party, and challenged men for county office, the state legislature, state office, Congress, and even for governor. This fascinating book reveals how they shattered traditional notions about “a woman’s place” and paved the way for future female politicians, including the “Fab Five” and countless others who have changed the course of Arizona history.

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A Woman's Place Is in the House
Campaigning for Congress in the Feminist Era
Barbara Burrell
University of Michigan Press, 1996
In this first comprehensive examination of women candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives, Barbara Burrell argues that women are as successful at winning elections as men. Why, then, are there still so few women members of Congress? Compared to other democratically elected national parliaments, the U.S. Congress ranks very low in its proportion of women members. During the past decade, even though more and more women have participated in state and local governments, they have not made the same gains at the national level.
A Woman's Place Is in the House examines the experiences of the women who have run for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1968 through 1992 and compares their presence and performance with that of male candidates. The longitudinal study examines both general and primary elections and refutes many myths associated with women candidates including their ability to raise money and garner support from both interest groups and political parties.
According to Burrell, election year 1992 was correctly dubbed the "Year of the Woman" in American politics--not so much because women overcame perceived barriers to being elected but because for the first time a significant number of women chose to run in primaries. Burrell's study examines the effects women are having on the congressional agenda and offers insight on how such issues as term limitations and campaign finance reform will impact on the election of women to Congress.
Barbara Burrell (Ph.D. University of Michigan) is professor and director of graduate studies in the Political Science Department at Northern Illinois University where she teaches courses in public opinion, political behavior and women and politics.


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Women in Politics in the American City
Myra Holman
Temple University Press, 2014
How do female municipal leaders influence policymaking in American cities? Can gender determine who gets a say in local politics or what programs cities fund? These are some of the questions raised and answered in Mirya Holman's provocative Women in Politics in the American City.
This book provides the first comprehensive evaluation of the influence of gender on the behavior of mayors and city council members in the United States. Holman considers the effects of gender in local, urban politics and analyzes how a leader's gender does-and does not-influence policy preferences, processes, behavior, and outcomes.
Holman effectively uses original survey data to evaluate policy attitudes, combined with observations of city council meetings and interviews with leaders and community members. In doing so, she demonstrates the importance of considering the gender of leaders in local office.
Women in Politics in the American City emphasizes that the involvement of women in local politics does matter and that it has significant consequences for urban policy as well as state and local democracy. 

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Women in the Club
Gender and Policy Making in the Senate
Michele L. Swers
University of Chicago Press, 2013

In the run-up to the 2012 presidential election, Democrats and Republicans were locked in a fierce battle for the female vote. Democrats charged Republicans with waging a “war on women,” while Republicans countered that Democratic policies actually undermined women’s rights. The women of the Senate wielded particular power, planning press conferences, appearing on political programs, and taking to the Senate floor over gender-related issues such as workplace equality and reproductive rights.

The first book to examine the impact of gender differences in the Senate, Women in the Club is an eye-opening exploration of how women are influencing policy and politics in this erstwhile male bastion of power. Gender, Michele L. Swers shows, is a fundamental factor for women in the Senate, interacting with both party affiliation and individual ideology to shape priorities on policy. Women, for example, are more active proponents of social welfare and women’s rights. But the effects of gender extend beyond mere policy preferences. Senators also develop their priorities with an eye to managing voter expectations about their expertise and advancing their party’s position on a given issue. The election of women in increasing numbers has also coincided with the evolution of the Senate as a highly partisan institution. The stark differences between the parties on issues pertaining to gender have meant that Democratic and Republican senators often assume very different roles as they reconcile their policy views on gender issues with the desire to act as members of partisan teams championing or defending their party’s record in an effort to reach various groups of voters.


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Women in the South African Parliament
Hannah Evelyn Britton
University of Illinois Press, 2005
Although the international press closely chronicled the dismantling of South Africa's apartheid policies, it paid little attention to the unique role women from a variety of political parties played in establishing the new government. Utilizing interviews, participant observation, and archival research, Women in the South African Parliament tells an inspiring story of liberation, showing how these women achieved electoral success, learned to work with lifelong enemies, and began to transform Parliament by creating more space for women's voices during a critical time in the life of their democracy.
Arguing from her detailed analysis of the strategies and political tactics used by these South African women, both individually and collectively, Hannah Britton contends that, contrary claims in earlier studies of the developing world, mobilization by women prior to a transition to democracy can lead to gains after the transition--including improvements in constitutional mandates, party politics, and representation. At the same time, Britton demonstrates that not even national leadership can ensure power for all women and that many who were elected to South Africa's first democratic parliament declined to run again, feeling they could have a greater impact working in their own communities.

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Women Legislators in Central America
Politics, Democracy, and Policy
By Michelle A. Saint-Germain and Cynthia Chavez Metoyer
University of Texas Press, 2008

During the years between 1980 and 1999, in the midst of war and economic crisis, a record number of women were elected to national legislatures in Central American republics. Can quantitative increases in the presence of elected women in Central America produce qualitative political changes?

In this detailed study, Michelle A. Saint-Germain and Cynthia Chavez Metoyer explore the reasons for this unprecedented political rise of women, and what effect it has had on the region. Focusing on Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, the authors analyze national and regional indicators to evaluate various hypotheses concerning the reasons for women's electoral success in the region, as well as to make comparisons with findings from other world regions. They find that the election of more women depends on three things: the presence of a crisis, a pool of politically experienced women, and a culture of gender consciousness. They also compare the characteristics of Central American women legislators to women in other national legislatures around the world.

The authors document how elected women have used their policy-making power to begin to change the lives of all Central Americans, women and men alike. In more than seventy-five in-depth, personal interviews, these women legislators reflect on their lives, political careers, and gender identities in their own words, providing deep insights into recent events in this region.


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Women Take Their Place in State Legislatures
The Creation of Women's Caucuses
Anna Mitchell Mahoney
Temple University Press, 2019

How do women strategically make their mark on state legislatures? Anna Mitchell Mahoney’s book traces the development of women’s state legislative caucuses and the influence both gender and party have on women’s ability to organize collectively. She provides a comprehensive analysis of how and why women organize around their gender identity in state legislatures—or why they do not.

Women Take Their Place in State Legislatures includes a quantitative analysis of institutional-level variables and caucus existence in all 50 states. Case studies of caucus attempts in New Jersey, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Iowa between 2006 and 2010 examine attempts at creating women’s caucuses that succeeded or failed, and why. Mahoney’s interviews with 180 state legislators and their staff explore the motivations of caucus creators and participants. Ultimately, she finds that women’s organizing is contextual; it demonstrates the dynamic nature of gender. 

Mahoney also provides insights into broad questions regarding gendered institutions, collective action, and political party governance. Women Take Their Place in State Legislatures fills a lacuna in the evaluation of women in government.


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