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The Motherless StateWomen's Political Leadership and American Democracy$
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Eileen McDonagh

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780226514543

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226514567.001.0001

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Confronting the Puzzle1

Confronting the Puzzle1

(p.1) 1 Confronting the Puzzle1
The Motherless State
University of Chicago Press

Women's political equality in terms of their representation as elected leaders in the United States is a serious problem and also a puzzle. In terms of women's political representation, the United States is a laggard. Women's mixed identities as hybrid candidates who, as individuals, are the same as men, but who, as maternalists, are different from men, are currently thought to bolster the public's acceptance of women's participation in politics. When it comes to democracies, liberal policies that treat everyone the same in spite of their group differences by sex are necessary for generating a political context supportive of women's access to political leadership. The one exception to America's motherless trajectory occurred in the early decades of the twentieth century, when many states and the federal government briefly adopted welfare provision as a form of state maternalism.

Keywords:   state maternalism, political equality, women, United States, political leadership, motherless, federal government

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