Government 166: Women and Politics in Contemporary America

California State University, Sacramento

Fall 2010



Professor:              Dr. Kimberly Nalder


Office:                   3121 Tahoe Hall

Phone:                   916-278-6693

Office Hours:       Fridays 1-3, or by appointment



Course Overview


Govt 166 is an upper-division government course which is cross-listed with Women’s Studies.  The course examines the role of women in political life in the United States, beginning with historical context and feminist theory, and then focusing on women’s roles as voters, party activists, candidates, and officeholders.  The course will also explore “women’s issues”, the patterns and explanations for the gender gap, and women’s political attitudes.  Throughout the semester, current events will be used to inform the discussion of all topics.




Klosko, George and Margaret G. The Struggle for Women’s Rights, Prentice Hall, 1999. ISBN 0-13-676552-1

Han, Lori Cox. Women and US Politics: The Spectrum of Political Leadership.  Lynne Rienner Publishers. 2010. ISBN: 9781588267351


Many of the readings will be current or posted online on the website or WebCT.


I also strongly recommend subscribing to a daily newspaper and/or reading some daily online.  The course will include a strong current events component, so keeping informed will be essential.  I can get you a bargain classroom rate for the New York Times (the national newspaper of record), and will post links to other suggested sources on the website.


Class Policies


Attendance: Mandatory.  Should you miss an in-class activity or be absent more than twice, your grade will suffer.  Being in class is vital to your learning.


No Make-Up Quizzes: There will be no make-up quizzes offered unless you bring documentation of severe illness or a death in the family.  The same is true of assignments.  No early exams.  You know the schedule from the first day of the semester.  Plan accordingly.


Turn off Beeping Things.  Please remember to turn off your cell phones, laptop sounds, etc.  Do not text/ e-mail/ web surf during class – it’s disrespectful.  I reserve the right to ban laptops in class if this becomes a problem.


Courtesy.  Please be respectful of other’s opinions during discussions.  Rest assured that everyone will get a chance to express themselves.  Please sit near the door if you have to leave early for any reason.  Don’t come in late – it’s rude and disruptive. In short, please show respect and courtesy for everyone in the classroom.  Your participation score can be negatively affected if there are any problems in this area.


Class Disruptions:  It is important that the learning environment be free of distractions and disruptions. Any student who creates a disturbance or otherwise prohibits the class from proceeding smoothly will be ejected from the class.  Further penalties will be imposed if the behavior recurs. The University policy can be viewed here:

Cheating and/or plagiarism: At the risk of being clichéd, you only cheat yourself when you cheat in class.  Just do the work.  The penalties will adhere to University Policy, but at the minimum will result in an F for the exam or assignment in question.  The relevant university policy can be accessed at:  You are responsible for reading and understanding the policy.


No Incompletes: Just finish the coursework on time.  I will not give incompletes for any reason other than a death in the family or a grave illness.  Do not even ask.



Course Requirements


This course relies a great deal on discussion and in-class skill development.  As such, attendance is mandatory.  I will take roll every day.  After two recorded absences, your participation grade will begin to suffer.  Plus, we’ll miss you if you’re gone.  If you have 8 or more absences, you will fail the class, no matter what you turn in.


The weekly assigned reading should be completed before class each Wednesday.  I suggest spreading it out over the week.  The discussion format makes this essential – if you arrive informed, you will get much more out of the class experience.  (And after all, learning as much as possible is the whole point, right?)




Projects: Instead of the usual exam-and-research-paper requirements, in this course we will be working on a couple of projects, spaced throughout the semester.  The first project involves looking at changes over time in the role of women in politics.  It will be due on September 27.  The second project will require you to interview a woman involved in politics and do a report on the insight she provides.  It will be due on November 22. The details of the projects will be thoroughly discussed in class and posted on my website.


Quizzes: There will be quizzes every other week (posted on WebCT on Thursdays, due by the following Monday at midnight) on the readings, and the lecture/discussion content for the prior 2 weeks.  These will encourage you to read carefully and keep up (no cramming.)  Trust me, you’ll thank me for pushing you to keep current.  Our class discussions will also be enhanced.  I do not give make-up quizzes, especially since you have several days within which to complete them.  The quizzes are worth 35% of your total grade, so do take them quite seriously.


Exam:  There will be one final covering the readings, lecture, discussion, and any other course content, such as videos, speakers, etc. The final exam will be OPEN NOTE, which means that you should be keeping careful notes throughout the semester.  This does not mean that you can bring texts or articles, so you should take notes on those as well.


In-class participation/ attendance: A portion of your grade will be assigned according to the extent of your class participation and attendance.  We will do in-class exercises, which will contribute to your grade.




Participation/ attendance                  10%        Every class period

In-class work                                          5%        Varied

Projects                                                  30%        15% each, for a total of 30% (due Sept. 27 and Nov. 22)         

Quizzes                                                  35%        Every other Thursday

Final                                                       20%        Dec. 15, 3:00-5:00


***You must complete ALL assignments and the exam to receive a passing grade.***



Tentative Reading Schedule


Aug. 30/Sept.1     Course Introduction – Philosophical Background

                                Klosko, Introduction

                                Klosko,  Rousseau 19-31



Sept.  8                   Women in political philosophy

                                Klosko, Wollstonecraft 32-51

                                Klosko, Mill 57-58

                                Klosko, Taylor 75-83

                        *Quiz Thurs*

                                                *No Class on Monday*


Sept. 13,15            Women’s Suffrage

                                Klosko, Seneca Falls 99-103

                                Klosko, Truth, 107-111

                                Klosko, Adams 147-155

                                Klosko, Cleveland, 213-222

        Suffrage Timeline



Sept. 20, 22           Frameworks: Feminism, Activism and Women’s Political Roles

        Han, Chapter 1

        Online TBA

                        *Quiz Thurs*


Sept. 27, 29   Feminism Today: 3rd wave, post-feminist, what?

                                Han, Chapter 2

                                                ***Her(his)tory Project Due Mon.***


Oct. 4, 6                 Political Socialization and Attitudes

                                TBA online

                        *Quiz posted Thurs.*


Oct. 11, 13            Voting Behavior and Participation

                                Han, Chapter 3

                                TBA online


Oct. 18, 20            Women and American Political Parties

                                TBA online                          

                                                *Quiz Thurs*




Oct. 25, 27            Women as Candidates     

                                Han, Chapter 4

                                Articles online


Nov. 1, 3                Media and Campaigns

Articles online

                                Political Campaign Ads online

                                                *Quiz Thurs*


Nov. 8, 10             Media, Stereotypes and Culture

        Articles online


Nov. 15, 17           Governing: Women in Legislatures

        Han, Chapter 5

Articles online

                *Quiz Thurs*       


Nov. 22, 24           Women in Executive Branch Positions – Why No Woman President Yet?

                                Han, Chapter 6

                                                **Interview project due on Monday**


Nov 29/Dec 1       Women’s issues: U.S. and International

        Current issue reading TBA online    

                                                *Quiz Thurs*


Dec.  6, 8               Looking Forward: What does the future hold?

                                Han, Chapter 8




Final Wednesday, December 15, 3:00-5:00