Women, Gender, and Politics: A Reader

Women, Gender, and Politics: A Reader

Women, Gender, and Politics: A Reader

Women, Gender, and Politics: A Reader


Women, Gender, and Politics brings together both classic and recent readings on central topics in the study of gender and politics, and places an emphasis on comparing developed and developing countries. Genuinely international in its focus, the book is divided into six sections to reflect the range of research in the subfield: (1) women and social movements, (2) women and political parties, (3) women, gender, and elections, (4) women, gender, and political representation, (5) women, gender, and social policies, and (6) women, gender, and the state. Each section serves as an introduction to general trends in thinking about women and politics, and the readings capture the ways that research has developed both thematically and chronologically in all of the six broad areas. The volume's innovative design, global approach, and comprehensive coverage make it an ideal teaching book and a valuable resource for students and scholars throughout the world.


This reader is just one of the many products that have resulted from our first meeting at a women and politics conference in Belfast in March 2002. Being very young scholars, we booked ourselves into very cheap accommodations and met while roaming the halls for a hairdryer. Keeping in touch over the years, we had our first opportunity for sustained collaboration in 2004–2005, when Mona was an Economic and Social Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Bristol, which has been Sarah’s home institution since 2003. We spent many afternoons and evenings discussing how to conceptualize and analyze various facets of women’s political representation. In 2005, these interests spilled into new collaborations with Karen Celis, at the University College Ghent, and Johanna Kantola, at the University of Helsinki, which has led us to think about “representation” in a much broader sense as occurring in parliaments, but also in social movements, political parties, and the state, as well as through the vehicles of elections and public policy.

When Mona returned to the United States to take up a job at Washington University in St. Louis, our conversations turned as well to questions of how to teach a course on women, gender, and politics. Neither of us felt that existing books were appropriate for a general introduction to the field, as monographs and edited collections tend to focus narrowly on one aspect of women’s political participation and/or one particular country or region of the world. This is a well-established norm in scholarly research, but creates a gap for students, both graduate and undergraduate, who seek exposure to a broader range of theoretical ideas and empirical examples. At the same time, we felt that a traditional textbook was inadequate to the task. These are too often overly general, focused on breadth rather than depth and pitched at a very introductory level. Furthermore, in our single- and co-authored research we have become increasingly aware of the need for both students and researchers to be able to access influential pieces “firsthand.”

This reader reflects our effort to distill some of the key bodies of research on women, gender, and politics. We focused on selecting both classic and recent contributions in six areas of research: (1) women and social movements; (2) women and political parties; (3) women, gender, and elections; (4) women, gender, and public policies; (5) women, gender, and political representation; and (6) women, gender, and the state. Our aim has been to capture the various ways that research has developed in each of these areas, both thematically and chronologically. To draw connections between the readings, each section includes a short overview of the selections and their relation to one another. Each set of readings might therefore be read as an introduction to general trends in thinking about women, gender, and politics, or alternatively, as an entry into key sets of debates as they have evolved over time.

The resulting volume, as with our other work, is truly “co-authored.” Despite the physical distance between us, we really do make decisions together: we engaged in a lot of back and forth exchanges on what to include and exclude, as well as on how the individual chapters and articles should be edited. We . . .

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