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The Impact of Women in Congress$
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Debra L. Dodson

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780198296744

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2006

DOI: 10.1093/0198296746.001.0001

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Health Care Reform: The Convergence of the Politics of Presence and the Politics of Ideas

Health Care Reform: The Convergence of the Politics of Presence and the Politics of Ideas

(p.195) 9 Health Care Reform: The Convergence of the Politics of Presence and the Politics of Ideas
The Impact of Women in Congress

Debra L. Dodson

Oxford University Press

This chapter deconstructs gender differences to explore the contested issues surrounding gender difference, when the politics of presence converged with partisan politics in the struggle over health care reform during the Democratic-controlled 103rd Congress. The impact of the institutional environment on women’s agenda and actions, along with differences in environmental pressures across parties and committees, are explored. The analysis attempts to move beyond the simple question of whether women make a difference to an understanding of how political environments, structured by partisanship and steeped in masculinist values, affect and can be affected by the feminale. The case study suggests that one cannot truly understand gender differences in an institutional vacuum, even as it forces us to confront the relationship between gender difference and substantive representation of women, and to consider the value of the concept of feminist protest in understanding partisan differences in gender difference and women’s impact.

Keywords:   health care reform, diversity, partisanship, descriptive representation, substantive representation, feminist protest, institutional constraints, extra-institutional environment, masculinism, positional power

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