Gender, the State, and Women's Political Power

FALL: Thursdays, 3:00 – 6:00 PM
September 8, 2011 – December 15, 2011
Building 56 room 154

This course examines the impact of state policies on gender relations in society and the ways in which the state is itself gendered. How do government policies reveal gendered traits and how does a gendered state impact women’s political representation? What impact in turn does women’s participation have on decisions that shape the political and economic world? How do the political and the domestic spheres of a given society intersect? As part of this inquiry the course will explore the gendered character of welfare states, reproductive rights, sex and sexuality, the workplace, and the body, as well as the status of women’s political inclusion in contemporary political systems. The course focuses on countries with a Western European heritage and on global challenges to women’s rights.


Eileen McDonagh, Professor of Political Science at Northeastern University, has written extensively on women’s political representation, sports, and reproductive rights. Her book, The Motherless State: Women’s Political Leadership and American Democracy, won the 2010 Greenstone prize for the best book published in the field of politics and history. Her current work examines the impact of democratization processes on women’s political inclusion and development of the welfare state.

Elizabeth A. Wood, Professor of History at MIT, specializes in Soviet and post-Soviet gender relations and performance issues. Her book, The Baba and the Comrade: Gender and Politics in Revolutionary Russia, was one of the first to apply a gender analysis to early Soviet policies and practices. Her current work addresses issues of masculinity and autocracy in the political performance of Vladimir Putin in Russia today.

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Contact Us

Consortium for Graduate Studies in Gender, Culture, Women, and Sexuality
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 14N-211
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
Phone: 617-324-2085