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Where Are All the Single Ladies? Marital Status and Women's Organizations’ Rule-making Campaigns

  • Ashley English (a1)

Abstract

Leading up to the 2016 election, single women were heralded as the “hot” new constituency. With unmarried women posed to comprise approximately half of the population of adult women and 23% of the electorate (Traister 2016), pundits claimed that the rising number of single women could transform American politics. Building on this recent enthusiasm about single women, this study provides one of the first systematic analyses of how contemporary women's organizations represent single women by analyzing 1,021 comments that women's organizations submitted to rule makers between 2007 and 2013. Using automated text analyses and a series of statistical analyses, it shows that despite the rising numbers of American single women, women's organizations only very rarely explicitly refer to single women during their comment writing campaigns, preferring to highlight the experiences of married mothers instead. Moreover, it shows that the political context unexpectedly has little to no effect on the degree to which women's organizations focus on single women, possibly because they so rarely mention them at all. Altogether, the results suggest that for single women to become politically powerful, they will need more than just large numbers; they may also need niche organizations that can help them organize and articulate their broader policy needs.

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Where Are All the Single Ladies? Marital Status and Women's Organizations’ Rule-making Campaigns

  • Ashley English (a1)

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