Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Celebrating women in politics: 10 books you need to read for Women’s History Month

This March we celebrate Women’s History Month, commemorating the lives, legacies, and contributions of women around the world. Since the inception of the women’s suffrage movement at Seneca Falls in 1848, we have seen a significant increase in women’s involvement in politics and the fight for women’s rights. It is important to honor the ones who stood up and fought before us, especially as we look forward towards the challenges to come.

We’ve compiled a brief reading list that explores the achievements and challenges of women in politics.

  1. Women as Foreign Policy LeadersSylvia Bashevkin provides critical insight on women’s leadership roles in contemporary foreign policy, while highlighting the diverse and transformative contributions that Jeane Kirkpatrick, Madeleine Albright, Condoleeza Rice, and Hillary Rodham Clinton made during a series of Republican and Democratic administrations. Read a free chapter online HERE  
  2. A Seat at the TableKelly Dittmar, Kira Sanbonmatsu, and Susan J. Carroll have interviewed over three-quarters of the women serving in the 114th Congress (2015-2017). This book looks at women’s legislative priorities and behavior, details the ways in which women experience service within a male-dominated institution, and highlights why it matters that women sit in the nation’s federal legislative chambers.
  3. Women, Power and PoliticsAs women continue to gain importance in politics as voters, candidates, and officeholders, so does our importance on understanding how gender shapes political power and distribution of resources within our society. Lori Cox Han and Caroline Heldman focus on the role of women as active participants in government and the public policies that affect women in their daily lives. 
  4. Power and Feminist Agency in CapitalismTo instigate change, we need to draw on collective power, but appealing to a particular type of subject, “women,” will always be exclusionary. Claudia Leeb proposes that power structures that create political subjects are never all-powerful. She rejects the idea of political autonomy and shows that there is always a moment in which subjects can contest the power relations that define them.
  5. A Feminist in the White HouseA feminist, an outspoken activist, a woman without a college education, Midge Costanza was one of the unlikeliest of White House insiders. Doreen Mattingly also reveals a wider, but heretofore neglected, narrative of the complex era of gender politics in the late 1970’s Washington – a history which continues to resonate in politics today.
  6. 100 Years of the Nineteenth AmendmentYear 2020 will mark the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, giving many women in the United States the right to vote. Holly J. McCammon and Lee Ann Banaszak present this collection of essays to take a look over the past century of women’s political engagement and how much women have achieved. Read a free chapter online HERE 
  7. No Ordinary WomanThis book is a biography of Edith Penrose, a remarkable woman and distinguished scholar. Angela Penrose tells Edith’s personal and professional story, weaving it through significant historical events of the twentieth century, reflecting the upheavals and dichotomies of the times. Read a free chapter online HERE
  8. Performing RepresentationShirin M. Rai and Carole Spary’s comprehensive analysis of women in the Indian parliament explores the possibilities and limits of parliamentary democracy and the participation of women in its institutional performances.
  9. Gender Parity and Multicultural FeminismAround the world, we see a participatory turn in the quest of gender equality, illustrated by the implementation of gender quotas in national legislatures to promote women’s role as decision-makers. Ruth Rubio-Marin and Will Kymlicka explore in their book, the connection between gender parity and multicultural feminism. Read a free chapter online HERE 
  10. Historic FirstsHilary Clinton was not the first women to run for presidency; Shirley Chisholm ran in 1972, but was unsuccessful. Even with her loss, it was a significant campaign that rallied American votes across various racial, ethnic and gender groups. Can “historic firsts” bring formerly politically inactive people into the electoral process, making it both relevant and meaningful? Evelyn M. Simien explores this idea. Read a free chapter online HERE
  11. After the Vote:Author Elisabeth Israels Perry begins with the city’s suffrage movement, which prepared these women for political action as enfranchised citizens. This book illustrates the variety of ways women negotiated the transition from nonpartisan to partisan activism after they won the vote.

Featured image credit: Suffragettes by U.S. Embassy The Hague. CC BY-ND 2.0 via Flickr.com

Recent Comments

There are currently no comments.