This symposium is the culmination of work that began in October 2007, when fourteen scholars from Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States convened at Case Western Reserve University to participate in the research conference Toward a Comparative Politics of Gender: Advancing the Discipline along Interdisciplinary Boundaries. The conference was funded by a Presidential Initiative Grant from the University and further supported by an ACES grant. Dr. Gregory Eastwood made available the Library of the Inamori Center for Ethnics and Excellence for our conference meetings. Many thanks to Linda Gilmore, Tonae Bolton-Dove, Gail Papay, Shelley White, and Sharon Skowronski for their expert administrative support. Professors Dorothy Miller (Women's Studies), Rosalind Simson (Philosophy, Law and Women's Studies), and Kelly McMann (Political Science and International Studies) served as discussants of the conference papers. To Theda Skocpol, who presented remarks at the opening dinner of the conference, and to the scholars who participated in the CPG conference and whose contributions are included in this symposium, I offer my deepest appreciation and gratitude.
What do we mean by a comparative politics of gender? How would a comparative politics of gender advance our understanding of politics generally? What would it take to develop a gendered comparative political analysis? In the essays that follow, Teri Caraway, Louise Chappell, Leslie Schwindt-Bayer, and Aili Mari Tripp elaborate their understandings of a comparative politics of gender. Five additional essays focus specifically on issues of democratization (Lisa Baldez, Georgina Waylen), political institutions and representation (Mili Caul Kittilson, Mona Lena Krook), and comparative sex equality policies (Mala Htun and Laurel Weldon). In this introductory essay, I discuss what I mean by “gender” in the context of comparative politics. Briefly enumerating the advantages of comparative politics as a subfield for a gendered analysis of political phenomena, I discuss how a comparative politics of gender can serve to advance our understanding of politics generally, and I provide an example of subfield research—the study of political violence—where gender as a metaconcept may be particularly useful. I conclude by considering what it would mean to our study of gender and of comparative politics to place gender as a central concept in comparative political research and to move to a comparative politics of gender.