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Center for Policy Studies

Public Affairs Discussion Group

The Widening Party Gap in Electing Women to Congress

Karen Beckwith, Ph.D. - Flora Stone Mather Professor of Political Science and Director of Curriculum Review
Friday February 22, 2013
12:30-1:30 p.m.
Dampeer Room
Kelvin Smith Library
Case Western Reserve University

Dear Colleagues:

If you look at Congress today, you would notice that most of the women are Democrats. You might conclude that after the electoral “gender gap” arose in the 1980 election, the Democrats became the party of female politicians as well as female voters. With the rather large difference that women remain drastically under-represented, relative to their share of the voters, in Congress.

Hence 20 of the 100 Senators and 77 of the 435 Representatives (17.7%) are women. 80% of female Senators (16) and over ¾ of female Representatives (58) are Democrats.

The story, however, is not quite so simple. First, the difference among elected officials far exceeds the difference in party allegiance among the voters. Second, the difference between the parties in electing women is fairly new: the gap opened dramatically in the 1990 and 1992 elections.

Who parties elect does not simply reflect who votes for a party. It also depends on how candidates are selected, how frequently incumbents retire or are displaced, and other factors.

What, then, explains why there are so many more Democratic than Republican women in Congress? Is it likely to persist, and what does that mean for gender representation in the future? These are good questions to ask Karen Beckwith, our Flora Stone Mather Professor of Political Science. She studies election of women to legislatures and appointment to cabinet positions across the world, so can offer a broad comparative perspective on the pattern in the United States.

All best regards,
Joe White
Luxenberg Family Professor of Public Policy and Director, Center for Policy Studies

About Our Guest...

Karen Beckwith joined our faculty as Flora Stone Mather Professor of Political Science in 2006. She received her B.A. from the University of Kentucky (1972) and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Syracuse University (1977, 1982). Teaching primarily in the areas of US politics, political movements, and women, gender, and politics, she has special interests in the United States and West Europe, particularly Britain and Italy.

Professor Beckwith has served as President of the American Political Science Association’s Women and Politics Research Section. She became the founding editor, with Lisa Baldez (Dartmouth College), of Politics & Gender, the section's journal; and has also been co-editor of the Gender and Politics Series of the Oxford University Press. Among her current research is an international project, funded by the European Consortium on Political Research, investigating Gender & Executive Leadership.

In October of 2007 she convened a research conference, funded by a CWRU Presidential Initiative Grant for Interdisciplinary Studies, that included scholars from Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The results of the conference were published as a ten-article symposium in Perspectives on Politics, 8 (1), March 2010
( Professor Beckwith’s article, “Comparative Politics and the Logics of a Comparative Politics of Gender,” introduces the symposium.

Some of her other research includes “Interests, Issues and Preferences: Women’s Interests and Epiphenomena of Activism,” Politics & Gender, 7 (3), September 2011
(; Political Women and American Democracy, with co-editors Christina Wolbrecht and Lisa Baldez (Cambridge University Press, 2008); Women’s Movements Facing the Reconfigured State, with co-editors Lee Ann Banaszak and Dieter Rucht (Cambridge, 2003), and American Women and Political Participation (Greenwood Press, 1986).

Parking Possibilities

We regret that there is no convenient free parking, especially with the current construction on Bellflower. The closest lot is the Severance garage, which can be entered from East Boulevard. One can avoid going outside the garage by using an entry door to the library that is just northeast of the main parking lot entrance from East Boulevard. It leads to an elevator which goes to the library entrance. You can also go up the stairway or elevator labeled "Thwing Center," from which it is a short walk to the library. Another possibility is the parking lot of the Church of the Covenant on Euclid, which can be entered from the north side of Euclid Ave, opposite Cornell Road. Visitors would walk west on Euclid, past the Thwing Center, and then follow the walkway to the library entrance.

Friday Lunch Upcoming Topics and Speakers:

March 1: University Circle Update. Steven Litt, The Plain Dealer

March 8: Perspectives on Genetically-Modified Food. Chris Cullis, Professor and Chair, Department of Biology and Mary Holmes, co-founder of the North Union (Shaker Square) Farmers Market

March 15: Spring Break - No Discussion

March 22: Shale Gas: Opportunities and Challenges. David Zeng, Frank H. Neff Professor and Chair, Department of Civil Engineering

March 29: International Development Assistance in Public Health. Bill Goldman, retired foreign service officer with USAID

April 5: Military Ethics and Dehumanizing the Enemy. With Anthony Jack, Assistant Professor of Cognitive Science, Philosophy, and Psychology and Shannon French, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Inamori Professor of Ethics.
***Special Location: Inamori Center, Crawford Hall Room 9***

April 12: The New Cuyahoga County Government: Perspective from the Council. Julian Rogers, Councillor for District 10

April 19: Mass Murder for the Media: The Breivik Case in Norway. Mark Turner, Institute Professor and Professor of Cognitive Science
***Special Location: Inamori Center, Crawford Hall Room 9***

April 26: Advocacy for Children, Who Don't Vote. Doug Imig, Professor of Political Science, University of Memphis
February 18, 2013

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Upcoming Events

U.N. World Social Justice Day

Please join the CWRU Social Justice Institute to celebrate the U.N. World Social Justice Day on Wednesday February 20th, from 12:30pm-2pm in the Inamori Center (ground level, Crawford Hall, CWRU campus). We will be showing a 20-minute segment of the powerful documentary film "The End of Poverty?" followed by a lively panel discussion featuring Prof. Pete Moore, Prof. Mano Singham, Prof. Rhonda Y. Williams, and Prof. Shannon French, along with audience Q&A. We will have free Jimmy John's sandwiches (while supplies last)!

Art Repatriation

Jennifer Neils, Case Western Reserve University, Josh Knerly, Hahn Loeser & Parks LLP, Jennifer Kreder, Northern Kentucky University, Chase College of Law, Dr. David Franklin, Cleveland Museum of Art, Dale Nance, Case Western Reserve University School of Law, Friday March 1, 2013, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., Moot Courtroom (A59), Case Western Reserve University School of Law, 11075 East Blvd, Cleveland, OH 44106. Sponsored by the Center for Law, Technology & the Arts and the Journal of Law, Technology, and the Internet

This symposium examines the pros and cons of repatriation. Cultural artifacts have often been incorporated as the focus of an exhibit in a museum; the possessor of the item, whether a museum, organization, or private dealer, has put resources into the restoration and continued maintenance of the piece. The possessor also often believes the piece was lawfully obtained. For these and other reasons, the possessor may refuse to consent to repatriation. Yet these items represent the cultural history and pride of the countries from which they originated. On that basis, continued possession of these items by museums and others outside the country of origin may be considered unethical or impolitic, if not necessarily unlawful.

Taxes and the Constitution

Erik Jensen, J.D., Schott van den Eynden Professor of Law at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, Wednesday March 13, 2013, 8:30 a.m., The City Club of Cleveland, 850 Euclid Ave., 2nd floor, Cleveland, Ohio 44114. Sponsored by the Case Western Reserve University School of Law. Free and open to public. Reception follows.

Congress’s power to tax is generally taken for granted, but the Constitution contains important limitations on the taxing power—the power to lay and collect taxes. These issues are not of only historical interest. Some were implicated in the recent litigation on the legitimacy of the individual mandate in the Obamacare legislation—the requirement, beginning in 2014, that most Americans acquire suitable health insurance or pay a penalty.

February 2013





































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