The Presidency and Women
Promise, Performance, and Illusion
Presidential Studies - Political Science
6.125 x 9.25, 368 pp.
10 tables., 13 boxes.
Pub Date: 05/20/2003
Joseph V. Hughes Jr. and Holly O. Hughes Series on the Presidency and Leadership
Price:        $55.00 s

Price:        $27.50 s


Published by Texas A&M University Press

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2004 Richard Neustadt Book Award, presented by the Presidency Research Group of the American Political Science Association

The Presidency and Women

Promise, Performance, and Illusion

By Janet M. Martin

Although no woman has yet served as president of the United States, women have played important roles within the executive branch—and they have found many ways to exert pressure on the president. In this imaginative and illuminating work, presidential scholar Janet M. Martin studies the influence of women on and in the American executive branch.

During the Kennedy administration, the President’s Commission on the Status of Women (1962) and the passage of the Equal Pay Act (1963) were milestones in the history of the relationship between women and the executive branch. The growing participation of women in the political process throughout the twentieth century had made the inclusion of women—or at least the appearance of such inclusion—in the decision-making processes in the White House a political imperative for the Kennedy administration and for all the presidents who have followed.

The Presidency and Women offers a sophisticated understanding of the functioning of the nation’s largest interest group and insight into the nation’s most visible office. Martin studies in detail the presidencies of Kennedy through Carter. She demonstrates both the substantive growth in women’s involvement in policy making and the political showcasing of women appointees, which has led to an ongoing illusion of even greater change. Her analysis provides insight into the day-to-day interactions between the White House and outside groups, the outside political pressures for certain policy agendas, and the internal White House dynamics in response to those pressures.

This book weaves the actions of presidents, their White House staff, and others in government with the actions of women and women’s organizations. The result is a longitudinal political narrative of the presidency and women from 1961 to 1981, with a focus on domestic policy and the departments and agencies relating to that policy.

Janet M. Martin is a professor of Government and Legal Studies at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. She holds a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University and has published extensively in her field.

What Readers Are Saying:

The Presidency and Women focuses attention on an often neglected area, exploring presidential involvement in both increasing the representation of women throughout the federal executive and fostering significant changes in the employment policies of the federal civil service and government contractors. At the same time, the volume underscores the limits of such activities and the persistent tendency for symbolism to masquerade as substance when it comes to policy initiatives and naming ‘key’ presidential advisers. The Presidency and Women makes an important contribution to scholarship on the U.S. presidency, the federal executive, and women in American politics and policy-making. It also promises to introduce readers to the long-term involvement of women in and around the U.S. presidency and to the evolution of and interplay between the U.S. presidency and women as political actors in and out of government.”--Karen M. Hult, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University

"Martin's analysis provides overdue insight into the relationship between the presidency as an institution and women as a leading interest group. And with her thorough and thoughtful look at the domestic policy-making process during the 1960's and 1970's, she offers appropriate reading for White House scholars, lobbyists and history buffs alike." -National Journal Group

“A good story as well as great scholarship. Martin has written the baseline book on the presidency and women which students of either topic must read. It will be cited for decades because no other book like it exists. Wonderfully written, Martin lures readers into rich political history by capturing the essence of five presidencies, the times, and women who wedged openings in policies and executive posts. Through impeccable archival work and interviews, Martin breathes life into the struggles, resistance, and maneuvering by men and women alike as each administration addressed policy and practices. Slowly, in the face of inertia, symbolic politics, and talent banks, the presidency opened opportunities for women even as they largely ignored them. Details into insider women’s efforts have been skillfully assembled, illustrating the difficult process of social and political change. Insights into the presidency abound. The quality of Martin’s scholarship demands another volume as presidential papers become available.” --Georgia Duerst-Lahti, Beloit College

“Professor Martin has written a wonderfully rich study of the relations between The Presidency and Women, a study that makes it clear that presidents and their aides often substituted unfulfilled promises and symbolic actions for policies and programs that would have led to greater progress for women. The project required more than a decade to complete as she cris-crossed the country to visit presidential archives and gather original source materials. This was a true labor of love, though no doubt it was often just a labor. Her scholarly persistence and sensitivity in interpreting the evidence make this work worthy of the Neustadt award, given in honor of the 20th century’s most influential student of the presidency.” --Joseph Pika, University of Delaware

“Martin’s work will interest scholars of the modern women’s movement and of the presidency.” --Skidmore College, Perspectives on Political Science

“In addition, The Presidency and women is a valuable contribution in our understanding of social movements in general. By identifying the parallel emergence of the women’s movement and the growth in the executive branch, Martin skillfully demonstrates ho our political system can accommodate the demand for change and also maintain a stable government.” --Skidmore College, Perspectives on Political Science

“. . . well-researched and interestingly written” --CHOICE

“ . . . her study of these five presidents and women fills a gap in presidential and gender studies.” --The Journal of American History

“Janet M. Martin contributes to the growing body of literature that expands, both in scope and in history, our knowledge of women’s efforts to achieve equality in political leadership.” --Political Science Quarterly

“Martin has done a masterful job of unearthing information from presidential and other records to present a historical record of what women have accomplished and the limits of their efforts in the second half of the twentieth century.” --Political Science Quarterly

“Her work is a thorough and thoughtful contribution to the study of women and the presidency.” --Political Science Quarterly


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