course title Supplementary Notes:
Women, Law, and Politics

Women and Law

Equal Protection of the Laws: Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution states, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”


Insights from Zillah R. Eisenstein. “The Engendered Discourse(s) of Liberal Law(s).” The Female Body and the Law. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988. 42-78.

Law is a form of discourse, midway between the “real” and the “ideal,” which both constructs and reflects the social and political realm.

Legal notions of equality of men and women are full of tensions and contradictions, particularly those associated with the following two conflicting standards:


Women and Politics

Insights from Karen L. Tamerius, “Sex, Gender, and Leadership in the Representation of Women.” Gender Power, Leadership, and Governance. Ed. Georgia Duerst-Lahti and Rita Mae Kelly. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1995. 93-114.

Tamerius argues that women in political office represent the interests of other women more effectively than men do; hence it is essential that more women run for and get elected to public office. Although a number of studies have found that there is not a significant difference in how men and women vote on women's issues in the legislature, there is a need for new analytical tools to measure the effect of sex/gender on representation.

Tamerius hypothesizes that gender differences in experience (rather than innate sex differences) explain this disparity.

revised January 2000
Barbara F. McManus
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