chapter  7
Women in Politics
ByWilliam O’neill
Pages 30

Women are invariably underrepresented in politics. They seldom hold more than 10 percent of the seats in national legislatures, and in the United States the figure is closer to 2 percent. Women everywhere seem to identify more with their families than with their sex and join men in supporting role definitions that keep women out of politics. This lack of solidarity distinguishes women from the minorities with which they are often compared. Robert H. McNeal suggests that the eagerness displayed by male narodniks in recruiting women might have been related to their larger failure. Organized feminism began in the United States and not in the more highly developed countries of Europe. There was a long European tradition of individuals speaking out for women's rights, of which Mary Wollstonecraft is the best known, but almost no precedent for women organizing on their own behalf. Feminism as an organized movement was largely confined to modern Western societies and their colonies.