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An Endogenous Approach to Women's Interests: When Interests Are Interesting in and of Themselves

  • Beth Reingold (a1) and Michele Swers (a2)

As Sapiro (1981) pointed out many years ago, recognizing that women's interests are interesting is the vital first step in establishing the significance of women's political representation (or the lack thereof)—both in the “real” world and in the scholarly world. Indeed, the assumption that women's interests exist, that women have political interests that can be defined and measured, is central to much of the subsequent research and discussion of women in politics. It is central to our own research on the relationship between women's descriptive and substantive representation (e.g., Reingold 2000; Swers 2002), and it is central to this symposium. Yet we come together in this symposium not simply because we share this assumption, but more tellingly because we all grapple with this assumption. Defining and measuring women's political interests pose a number of very difficult questions or dilemmas, which we elaborate in the following. We highlight these challenges not to dismiss such endeavors as futile or necessarily misguided. Rather, we argue that the very uncertainty surrounding women's interests is what makes them so interesting.

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Barbara C. Burrell 1994. A Woman's Place Is in the House: Campaigning for Congress in the Feminist Era. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Karen Celis , Sarah Childs , Johanna Kantola , and Mona Lena Krook . 2008. “Rethinking Women's Substantive Representation.” Representation 44: 99110.

Debra L. Dodson 2006. The Impact of Women in Congress. New York: Oxford University Press.

Sally J Kenney . 1996. “New Research on Gendered Political Institutions.” Political Research Quarterly 49: 445–66

Jane. Mansbridge 1999. “Should Blacks Represent Blacks and Women Represent Women? A Contingent ‘Yes.’Journal of Politics 61: 628–57.

Ronnee. Schreiber 2008. Righting Feminism: Conservative Women and American Politics. New York: Oxford University Press.

Dara Z Strolovitch . 2007. Affirmative Advocacy: Race, Class, and Gender in Interest Group Politics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Sue. Thomas 1989. “Voting Patterns in the California Assembly: The Role of Gender.” Women & Politics 9: 4353.

Susan. Welch 1985. “Are Women More Liberal Than Men in the U.S. Congress?Legislative Studies Quarterly 10: 125–34.

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Politics & Gender
  • ISSN: 1743-923X
  • EISSN: 1743-9248
  • URL: /core/journals/politics-and-gender
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