February 2, 1998
Volume 50, No. 19
Poli Sci's Reingold examines what female politicians are really like
Female politicians are more compassionate. More liberal. More responsive to constituents. More honest. True? Not necessarily, said Beth Reingold, assistant professor of political science. At a Feb. 4 lecture, "Deconstructing Difference: Sex, Gender and Political Representation in the United States," Reingold will analyze an argument many people have heard before: Female politicians make a difference for women in particular.
"Going back to the suffragist movement, people have made this argument," Reingold said. These claims make assumptions about what representation means and what "women's issues" mean, Reingold asserted.
Reingold began examining women politicians in her dissertation research at the University of California at Berkeley. The studies she found "assumed it was the differences between men and women that were interesting," Reingold said. "The similarities were, and are, not only considered uninteresting but disappointing.
"The idea that men and women are different provides a very compelling argument as to why we should elect more women to office," she said. "We need to re-evaluate this argument in part and pay more attention to other arguments."
That's not to say constituents shouldn't care whether women are elected to public office. "But maybe we should care for different reasons," Reingold said.
The women's studies colloquium "Deconstructing Difference" will be held Feb. 4 at 4 p.m. in 112 White Hall.