Women, Politics & Public Policy
The objective of this course is to provide a foundation that will prepare students to understand and disentangle the policymaking process by using a variety of analytical tools. Simultaneously, it is designed to analyze the policymaking process from a gendered perspective. Thus, the emphasis of the class is twofold. On the one hand, we will analyze the role of women as policymakers: how they arrive at decision-making positions, how they exercise power, and how they establish and pursue their policy agendas and policy priorities. This section of the course runs parallel with the general theme of women and politics. On the other hand, we will learn how to use a variety of analytical frameworks to better understand the policymaking process while applying them to various policy areas and issues that have a distinct gender component, such as health, education, employment, violence against women, reproductive rights, and so on. In this section, the analysis will focus on how specific policy initiatives have had an impact on the lives of women and how they were enacted (e.g., the Violence Against Women Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, Obamacare). The focus of the course will be primarily on the United States, but a comparative perspective is also built into the topics covered and discussed. The comparison of the U.S. with other nations and cultures adds significant analytical breadth to any assessment of women’s social, political, and economic lives. It is also a rich approach to understanding the policymaking process in general. Given that we will be living through a unique moment in the nation’s electoral history as we have the very first woman ever running for the presidency on the ticket of a major political party and are heading to a contentious race this November, following the developments of that race will provide a live and unique laboratory to observe how women, politics, and public policy come together. Every week a team of two students will provide a briefing to the class on the assigned topic as it relates to the election. We will be conducting exciting and interesting exercises to frame our analysis, paying particular attention to the development and formation of policy agendas (emphasizing issues of gender, diversity and inclusion), conducting a content analysis of media reporting, dissecting the presidential and vice presidential debates, and so on. GRADING Grading will be based on students’ participation in class discussions and general contribution to the class (20%); individual and team presentations (30%); policy memos and policy briefs (20%); and the final paper (30%). All reading materials assigned will be available in electronic or library reserves. Journal articles and book chapters will be posted in your weekly Canvas Modules. BOOKS AVAILABLE ON RESERVE (Benson Library) Sue Thomas. 1994. How Women Legislate, Oxford University Press. M. Margaret Conway, David W. Ahern, and Gertrude Steuernagel. 1999. Women & Public Policy. A Revolution in Progress. CQ Press. Sue Thomas and Clyde Wilcox, eds. 1998. Women and Elective Office. Past, Present, & Future. Oxford University Press. James E. Anderson. 2000. Public Policymaking. An Introduction. 4th ed. Houghton Mifflin. John W. Kingdon. 1995. Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies. 2nd ed. Longman. Paul A. Sabatier and Hank C. Jenkins-Smith. 1993. Policy Change and Learning: An Advocacy Coalition Approach. Frank R. Baumgartner and Bryan D. Jones. 1993. Agendas and Instability in American Politics. Paul A. Sabatier, ed. 1999. Theories of the Policy Process. Westview Press. eBook. Full text online.