POLS/GWSS 313A WOMEN IN POLITICS
University of Washington-Seattle
Summer term (B) 2017
Instructor: Hind M. Ahmed Zaki
Office Hours: TBD
This course explores how gender, as a unit of analysis, influence the nature and practice of political life, as well as the ways in which sexual difference has served as a basis for social and political organisation. For the first two weeks of this term, we will look at various explanations and approaches, both theoretical and empirical, that sought to explain the roots of gender inequality and how they influence women's access to political power, across both time and space. We will employ four analytical lenses to help us interpret what we see: Power, Economy, Culture, and Patriarchy. These lenses will help us understand how issues specific to women relate to mainstream debates in political science.
In the second two weeks, we will examine a range of substantive issues that concern women in a wide range of societies to gauge which kinds of explanations are the most persuasive. In covering those issues, we will analyze the experiences of women comparatively, across a wide range of countries, societies and regions. This course is based around the following six motivational questions:
- What does it mean to be politically powerful? In what ways have women achieved political power historically? How do we best understand women’s underrepresentation in the formal political arena? What are the main factors that impact this?
- How could we understand male privilege as power? What is patriarchy and how can we define it?
- How do we best explain the persistence of global gender inequality? What kinds of theoretical approach, methodologies, and tools for empirical analysis could best help us explain this? it best to use a combination of tools? Is gender inequality regional or culturally specific? What roles does culture, broadly defined, play in our understanding of women’s experiences in non-western countries? How do nationalism and the global economy define women’s experiences across borders?
- Are the relationships between gender, power, culture, markets and the state? How do we understand the economic division of labor? What are the costs, and who bears them? How should we evaluate the costs and benefits?
- How can we explain the rise of feminist movements in the advanced world? Is feminism global? What does feminism look like in the third world? Is feminism necessary a western construction, or can we talk instead about feminism(s)?
- Could we talk of gender inequality as a global phenomenon? What kinds of variations exist between the experiences of women in the advanced industrialized world and the third world? What are the challenges that face attempts to explain gender inequality on a global scale?
Through reading challenging texts, watching relevant films, engaging in class discussions, and completing a variety of written assignments, students are expected to sharpen their analytical, writing, and speaking skills, and to develop a critical perspective on global gender inequality and how to understand it.
This course will combine both lecture and discussion formats. Because of the nature of many of the topics that I teach, students find that my classes quite often include passionate, even heated, discussions of the material. I encourage these sorts of conversations and debates, as I believe that they provide excellent opportunities for refining one’s thinking and values.
Course assignments–from readings through exam questions–have been designed with these objectives in mind. To help you achieve these objectives, I commit to (1) actively linking our discussions to these ideas and (2) providing substantive, regular feedback on your work. In return, I expect each member of the class to commit to (1) putting a sincere, concerted effort into all assignments and (2) actively participating in class discussions.
Pamela Paxton & Melanie M. Hughes, Politics, and Power: A Global Perspective: SAGE Publications, 2017.(Available in University Bookstore).
All of the other readings for this course will be available electronically on the course website.
Students will be assessed according to the following required assignments:
Midterm exam: 20%
Final Paper: 30%
In class project and presentation: 20%
Readings Reaction Paper: 15%
Midterm: The midterm will be in-class and will solely cover course materials from the first two weeks of classes. It will consist of three short-essay questions and will be two-hours long. A study guide with possible exam questions will be posted on the course website one week before the exam.
Final Paper: The final paper is not a research paper, but rather a paper that requires a close-reading of the course’s texts and lectures. You don’t need any outside resources for your final paper. Final papers are 8-10 pages long and are due on July 21st. Only hard copies delivered to my mailbox will be accepted. Towards the last couple of weeks of the quarter,
Class Project: In addition to an in-class midterm exam and a final paper, each student will do one in class-presentation/ project during the final week of the quarter. Possible ideas for those projects will be discussed on the first day of class. Those projects invite student to engage creatively with the course material and present one project on those themes. Projects should be fun and interactive, and should reflect one theme, application, or critique of any of the broader issues discussed during the course. You will be graded on how creative your project is, and how much it engages with the themes of the class. Each project will be presented in 15 minutes including a Q and A with the rest of the class. Have fun and be innovative with this assignment! Group projects are a possibility and are in fact encouraged! You need to discuss your project with me by July 7th.
Readings Reaction Paper: In addition, each student will be responsible for writing one reading reaction paper on one of the class readings. Each student will sign up to do a reading on the second day of class. Reaction papers are due by 6:00 p.m. each day for the reading that is due in class the next day. Reaction papers are two pages long and should end with a few suggested questions for class discussion. Papers should be posted by the student on the class website. All the other students are expected to read each day’s reaction paper before coming to class. Each student will do a 10 minute presentation on the reading in class on the day it is due. Those presentations will count toward your participation grades, and are meant to stimulate class discussion.
Participation: Participation grades are not based on just attendance; it is based on active participation in class discussions. This is a small seminar, and thus your active participation is essential. I don’t grade the “correctness” of what you say, I will grade your merely on the quality of your efforts at being an active participant in class. Questions count towards participation and there no question is considered irrelevant!
In addition to asking questions in class and engaging in class discussions generally, here are other things that count toward participation:
- Short write-ups in class: Please be sure to bring a pack of index cards to class. We will do many of those throughout the quarter!
- Your efforts in presenting your readings reaction paper, and engaging other students in the discussion that day through your questions and comments.
The main goal of all five class assignments is to allow students to critically analyze the readings and to develop a clearer understanding of the course’ main themes. It is not enough to summarize the readings but you need to present your own views, and demonstrate an understanding of the main themes and issues presented. A critical perspective in this class is rewarded and encouraged!