Theorizing Women's Representation in the United States

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30 Scopus citations


From the perspective of women's experiences, it is easy to see that democratic representative institutions can be tools of oppression. After all, formal democratic institutions have been either a form of governance that has only ruled over women (e.g., women were formally prohibited from holding elected offices) or a form of governance in which women have ruled and been ruled unequally (e.g., the number of female representatives have been significantly lower than the number of male representatives). Moreover, informal representative institutions, for example, interest groups, do not seem to work for women as well as they do for powerful men (Strolovitch 2007). These facts suggest that democratic representative institutions need to be viewed suspiciously. We should not assume that representative institutions in democracies necessarily benefit all women. We need to recognize how they can divide women, pitting some women's interests and preferences against other women's interests and preferences. Democratic representative institutions can function to preserve the status quo, distributing benefits unjustly among different men and women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-319
Number of pages23
JournalPolitics and Gender
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science


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