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Women and Elective OfficePast, Present, and Future$
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Sue Thomas and Clyde Wilcox

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199328734

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199328734.001.0001

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Representing Women’s Interests in a Polarized Congress

Representing Women’s Interests in a Polarized Congress

(p.162) 10 Representing Women’s Interests in a Polarized Congress
Women and Elective Office

Michele L. Swers

Oxford University Press

What does it mean to represent women’s interests in a polarized era? This chapter explores how gender affects the policy activities of legislators in a polarized Congress. In the chapter a theory is developed of how the politics of women’s rights in a sharply partisan era shapes the policy priorities and political opportunities for women in the Democratic and Republican parties. This theory is illustrated with case studies of the confrontation over President George W. Bush’s lower court judicial nominees and the fight for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the equal pay legislation that became the first piece of legislation signed by President Barack Obama. The chapter concludes by demonstrating how the “war on women” frame in the 2012 elections reflects the new politics of women’s rights and by exploring the future dynamics of gender politics within the Republican and Democratic congressional parties.

Keywords:   Senate, Polarization, Judicial nominations, Lilly Ledbetter, War on women

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