It takes a state: A policy feedback model of women's political representation

  • McDonagh E
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Abstract

American women attain more professional success in medicine, business, and higher education than do most of their counterparts around the world.Anenduring puzzle is, therefore,whytheUSlags so far behind other countries when it comes towomen’s political representation. In 2008, women held only 16.8 percent of seats in theHouse of Representatives, a proportion that ranks America lower than 83 other countries. This article addresses this conundrum. It establishes that equal rights alone are insufficient to ensure equal access to political office. Also necessary are public policies representing maternal traits that voters associate with women. Such policies have feedback effects that teach voters that the maternal traits attributed towomenrepresent strengths not only in the private sphere of the home but also in the public sphere of the state.Most other democracies nowhave such policies in place, but theUnited States lacks such policies, which accounts for its laggard status with regard to the political representation of women.

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Authors

  • Eileen McDonagh

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