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date: 01 October 2022

Women and American Political Parties, 1972–2021locked

Women and American Political Parties, 1972–2021locked

  • Allida BlackAllida BlackDistinguished Visiting Scholar, The Miller Center for Public Affairs, tbe University of Virginia; Historian and Advisor to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

Summary

As we begin the second century of women’s suffrage, American women increasingly outvote men. Six women ran for president in 2020. A woman is vice president of the United States, the Speaker of the House is female, and there are record numbers of women in Congress. Women are leading strategists for both major parties. Yet the Republican and Democratic parties continue to approach the women’s vote and the issues that drive them to the polls in fundamentally opposite ways. This division carries over into the House of Representatives and the Senate, where 89 of 102 congresswomen and 17 of 25 women senators are Democrats.

This was not always the case. A bipartisan similarity dominated the parties’ approach toward women until the mid-1970s, when intraparty divisions over abortion, the Equal Rights Amendment, pay equity, and childcare, followed by debates over global warming, gun violence, healthcare, immigration, LGBTQ rights, and war, ripped that commodity apart in ways that would define women’s votes and party identity for the next five decades.

Women and their parties responded to these challenges in different ways. Women organized their own social movements; challenged their party’s infrastructure; created their own political action committees, research centers, and candidate training schools; formed their own coalitions; drafted their own candidates; and ran for office. Political parties took notice and slowly adjusted their rules—though in different ways and with different intent—and in the process solidified the party gender gap.

Subjects

  • Political History
  • Women's History

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