Call for Proposals for a Special Issue of the Journal of Women, Politics and Policy

 “Sell-Outs or Warriors for Change?

 A Comparative Look at Conservative Women in Politics in Democracies”

Deadline for proposals:  September 30, 2018

Notification of acceptance: October 2018

First draft due to editors: April 1, 2019

Authors’ workshop: July 4-6, 2019 (at ECPG in Amsterdam)

Final submission: September 15, 2019

Estimated publication: January 2020


Please send your proposal (max. 750 words, short biographical information on all authors, and availability for ECPG) to both guest editors, by September 30, 2018:

Shauna Shames, Rutgers University Camden,                                      Malliga Och, Idaho State University,


Special Issue Overview

The hope has always been that more women in politics would lead to greater inclusion of women’s voices and interests in decision-making and policy. Yet this is not always the case; some prominent conservative women such as Margaret Thatcher or Angela Merkel have rejected the feminist label while others such as Theresa May have embraced it. Likewise, Sarah Palin in the U.S. has acted contrary to what many consider to be women’s issues while conservative minister Ursula von der Leyen in Germany has supported several feminist policies. Other conservative women, such as Marine LePen in France or Alice Weidel in Germany, strategically use feminist ideas to justify their conservative stances on immigration. This brings up interesting questions: under what circumstances do conservative women become feminist allies and when do they toe the party line? It is this tension between women’s political representation and conservatism that this special issue seeks to explore. This focus is timely; events in the world have surpassed our knowledge from the previous literature. Much of the literature on women and politics worldwide (including in the U.S.) focuses on the status and activities of women in left parties. From these studies we know that left parties typically have a greater number of women representatives in their ranks, they tend to be allies of the feminist movement, and they were the first to adopt electoral gender quotas.[1] More recently, a spate of recent research has begun examining women on the conservative side of the aisle in advanced democracies, as both elected officials and voters. These studies have asked ‘what to do with conservative claims’ of women’s representation,[2] examined the policy attitudes of conservative voters and elected officials,[3] or the factors that prompt conservative parties to feminize their politics and representation.[4] What is missing from these studies are comparative and systematic accounts of women’s representation in and across conservative governments and parties within advanced industrialized democracies.

Potential Contributions

This special issue welcomes contributions from scholars of gender and politics who are working on women’s representation in conservative parties and/or governments in democracies. We are particularly encouraging the submission of comparative approaches to the theme of the special issue, including those using the U.S. as a case.

Potential topics that contributions could address include, but are not limited to:

  1. The representation of conservative women in politics, descriptively, substantively, and/or symbolically;
  2. Paths to power and leadership for conservative women;
  3. The use or enactment of gender and feminist ideas and rhetoric in/by far-right parties;
  4. The role of gender in mass attitudes and partisan affiliation, with a focus on right parties and using a comparative rather than single-case-study lens.

Book Review Section

The special issue will also include a themed book review section. If you have relatively recently published, or will publish before June 2019, a book on women in conservative parties or governments, or if you have suggestions for reviews, please email the co-editors (see above) with the following information:

  • Author(s’) contact information
  • Title of book
  • Publication date
  • Contact information of book editor

If you are interested in reviewing books for this special issue, please email the co-editors (see above) with the subject line “Book review – special issue.”


A special issue workshop will be held as part of the 2019 European Conference on Gender and Politics in Amsterdam from July 4-6. The panel will serve as an important round of feedback from the editors and fellow authors to the contributors. Contributors will revise their submissions based on the conference feedback and editors’ comments by September 15, 2019. While the editors are unable to provide funding for conference travel, we encourage potential contributors to apply for travel awards through ECPG. Please indicate in your submission if you are planning to attend ECPG. Inability to attend the conference does not necessarily preclude inclusion in this project.



[1] Lovenduski, Joni. 2010. ‘The Dynamics of Gender and Party.’ In Women, Gender, and Politics: A Reader, edited by Mona Lena Krook and Sarah Childs, 81–86. New York: Oxford University Press.

[2] Celis, Karen, and Sarah Childs. 2011. ‘The Substantive Representation of Women: What to Do with Conservative Claims?’ Political Studies 60 (1). Wiley-Blackwell: 213–25.

[3] Campbell, R., and S. Childs. 2013. ‘“To the Left, to the Right”: Representing Conservative Women’s Interests’. Party Politics 21 (4). SAGE Publications: 626–37.

[4] Childs, Sarah, Paul Webb, and Sally Marthaler. 2009. ‘The Feminisation of the Conservative Parliamentary Party: Party Members’ Attitudes.’ The Political Quarterly 80 (2). Wiley-Blackwell: 204–13.

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