When women in politics interact with reporters, opponents, and constituents, they are forced to confront their parental status. If they have children, they are questioned about their competence in both their public and private lives. If they don’t, they face criticism for not understanding or relating to key policy domains. This “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” conundrum raises difficult questions about how politicians, voters, and the media navigate the intersection of gender, parental status, and politics.
Mothers and Others brings together scholars researching political careers, party organization, political behaviour and representation, and public policy to discuss the role of parental status in political life. They look at three main areas of citizen engagement with the political system – parenthood and political careers, parenthood in the media, and parenthood and political behaviour – to argue that being a parent is a gendered political identity that influences how, why, and to what extent women (and men) engage with politics.
The first major comparative analysis of the role of parenthood in politics, Mothers and Others makes important observations about what we know and what we still need to find out.
Mothers and Others is for scholars and students of political science, gender and women’s studies, and sociology both in Canada and abroad.
Drawing on substantive empirical data, the authors challenge typical, run-of-the-mill work on women, parental status, and politics while adding intriguing ideas and important insights to the published literature.
Mothers and Others offers a comprehensive and international look at what motherhood means for the political lives of women as citizens, voters, candidates, and members of government.
Melanee Thomas is an associate professor of political science at the University of Calgary. Amanda Bittner is an associate professor of political science at Memorial University.
1 The “Mommy Problem”? Gender, Parental Status, and Politics / Melanee Thomas and Amanda Bittner
Part 1: Parental Status and Political Careers
2 The (M)otherhood Trap: Reconsidering Sex, Gender, and Legislative Recruitment / Rosie Campbell and Sarah Childs
3 Lactating Mothers in Parliament: Beyond Accommodation / Barbara Arneil
4 Motherhood and Politics in Latin America: Continuity and Change / Susan Franceschet, Jennifer M. Piscopo, and Gwynn Thomas
5 “Society Is Balanced, So Local Boards Should Be Balanced Too”: Gatekeeper Attitudes toward the Gender Balance Law in Iowa / Rebecca J. Hannagan and Christopher W. Larimer
6 Conservative Mothers in Politics: Pushing and Reinforcing Ideological Boundaries / Ronnee Schreiber
Part 2: Communications and Campaign Strategy
7 Private Mom versus Political Dad? Communications of Parental Status in the 41st Canadian Parliament / Melanee Thomas and Lisa Lambert
8 Mothers and the Media on the Campaign Trail / Melissa K. Miller
9 Identity and Activism in an Era of Politicized Motherhood / Carrie A. Langner, Jill S. Greenlee, and Grace Deason
Part 3: Parenthood and Opinion, Participation and Behaviour
10 The Parent Gap in Political Attitudes: Mothers versus Others / Elizabeth Goodyear-Grant and Amanda Bittner
11 Context, Motherhood, and the Gender Gap in Political Knowledge / Janine Giles
12 Attitudes toward Work, Motherhood, and Parental Leave in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom / Allison Harell, Stuart Soroka, Shanto Iyengar, and Valérie Lapointe
13 Motherhood’s Role in Shaping Political and Civic Participation / Brenda O’Neill and Elisabeth Gidengil
14 Toying Around with the Future: Sustainability within Families / Michele Micheletti and Dietlind Stolle
15 Gender, Parenthood, and Politics: What Do We Still Need to Know? / Amanda Bittner and Melanee Thomas
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