Christina Wolbrecht and J. Kevin Corder have a new book that builds on their previous work exploring women and suffrage in the United States, Counting Women’s Ballots: Female Voters from Suffrage through the New Deal (Cambridge University Press, 2016). A Century of Votes for Women: American Elections Since Suffrage (Cambridge University Press, 2020), arriving as we mark the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, explores women as voters in the United States while examining the contexts and changes that surround women participating in politics. Wolbrecht and Corder weave together a variety of methodological frameworks to guide the reader through an understanding of both women and men as voters during the past hundred years, examining voter data that they have spent years compiling from a variety of sources.
A Century of Votes for Women: American Elections Since Suffrage also provides well-documented and important historical frameworks in which to consider this data, as the authors sketch out the legal, cultural, economic, and electoral shifts that transpire, at different speeds over the course of the century. These shifts in “orders” – the legal order, the gender order, electoral behavior, the family, the economic order, etc. – may move in the same direction, but they are often in tension with each other because the rate of change is not the same. Wolbrecht and Corder also parse out differences in ballot access for women—where racial and economic prohibitions also combined to preclude different groups of women (African American, immigrant, etc.) from fully exercising the franchise. This is a fascinating book, providing the reader with broad policy considerations, historical frameworks, and rich data to understand the integration of women as voters, but also the way in which we think about gender distinctions in context of politics.
As part of our discussion, we also dive into the concept of republican motherhood and understandings of the social context of gender. Both of these parts of the broader conversation highlight ongoing complications within the narratives that surround any discussion of women in politics.
Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), as well as co-editor of Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of Modern America (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015).
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