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Feminizing Politics

ISBN: 978-0-7456-2463-1
184 pages
February 2005, Polity
Feminizing Politics (0745624634) cover image
Feminists have long argued that the presence of women in politics provides a means of articulating women’s perspectives and issues. As the number of female MPs increases, it is often claimed that the nature of politics itself will be transformed. But are we really witnessing the feminization of politics? Do women make a difference to political life and, if so, under what circumstances? In this fascinating new book, Joni Lovenduski seeks to answer these questions by exploring the changes in the political representation of women since the 1960s. Focusing primarily on the UK, but drawing on examples from other political systems, Lovenduski goes on to consider how institutions, processes and procedures are affected by the changing number of women in politics. She explores what is at stake when we try to achieve equality of women and men in public office, and draws out the ways in which the constraints and possibilities for political action are gendered.


Feminizing Politics makes a vital contribution to debates about the role of women in politics today. It will be of interest to students and scholars of comparative politics and gender studies as well as the interested general reader.

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  • Acknowledgements
  • List of Tables
  • List of Abbreviations
  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Feminism and Political Representation: Ideas and Struggles
  • Chapter 3: Obstacles to Feminising Politics
  • Chapter 4: Equality strategies and the Quota Movements
  • Chapter 5: Examples Quotas and Parite
  • Chapter 6: Making a Difference?
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Index
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Joni Lovenduski is Professor of Politics at Birkbeck College, London.
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  • A major contribution to the debates about the role of women in politics today.

  • Offers an insightful analysis of the changes in the political representation of women since the 1960s.

  • Draws on a wide range of material including interviews with women politicians, policy advocates and academics.

  • Explores how institutions, processes and procedures are affected by the changing number of women in politics.
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'It is hard to think of a gender-neutral equivalent of the word "masterly". So I have no alternative but to describe Joni Lovenduski's book as a masterly exploration of how the male world of politics is becoming feminized. With skill and thoughtfulness, she guides us through the meanings of claims for the greater presence of women in politics, the institutions through which change processes are taking place and how we might judge whether something different has emerged or is emerging. The book is beautifully written and will be enjoyed not only in the academy, but by all citizens who care about how we are represented.'

Elizabeth Meehan, Queen's University, Belfast

'Well-written, compelling and thoroughly theorized, Feminizing Politics is a sophisticated treatment of women's political representation, both of women and by women in parliament. Written as an intervention in the debate about how to achieve women's political representation in Britain, Feminizing Politics speaks beyond the British case to issues of comparability across nations, specific parliamentary contexts, critical mass and women's policy issues. Joni Lovenduski examines gender realignment, party quotas for women, and the institutional resistance to women in parliament, presenting a sombre but not pessimistic assessment of the impact of large numbers of new women in the 1997 House of Commons.'

Karen Beckwith, The College of Wooster, Ohio

'This highly readable book offers a useful overview of key issues regarding the role of women in politics today, especially Britain. ...This book, aimed at students and scholars of comparative politics and gender studies, as well as the general reader, is an excellent starting point for those who wish to explore the theme of women and politics in Britain today.'

June Purvis, Times Higher Education Supplement, 27 May 2005

'Feminizing Politics is a useful resource for politics students and anyone interested in the advance of women through the political system in the UK and elsewhere, as it is accessible and clearly written in a reader-friendly style ... A particular strength of the book lies in the combination of a historical perspective on the issue of feminism and political representation with a wide-ranging discussion of the contemporary situation which is truly global in its geographical scope'

Jane Martin, Gender and Education, January 2007

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