The Motherless StateWomen's Political Leadership and American Democracy

The Motherless StateWomen's Political Leadership and American Democracy

Eileen McDonagh

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226514543

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


American women attain more professional success than most of their counterparts around the world, but they lag surprisingly far behind in the national political arena. Women held only 15 per cent of U.S. congressional seats in 2006, a proportion that ranks America behind eighty-two other countries in terms of females elected to legislative office. This book is an exploration of this deficiency and reveals why the United States differs from comparable democracies that routinely elect far more women to their national governing bodies and chief executive positions. Explaining that equal rights alone do not ensure equal access to political office, the author shows that electoral gender parity also requires public policies which represent maternal traits. Most other democracies, she demonstrates, view women as more suited to govern because their governments have taken on maternal roles through social welfare provisions, gender quotas, or the continuance of symbolic hereditary monarchies. The United States has not adopted such policies, and until it does, the author warns, American women run for office with a troubling disadvantage.