Professor Karen Beckwith Publishes New Book, “Cabinets, Ministers, and Gender”

Professor Karen Beckwith’s book, Cabinets, Ministers, and Gender, written with Professors Claire Annesley (University of Sussex, UK) and Susan Franceschet (University of Calgary, Canada), has been published by Oxford University Press. The book examines the gendered process and outcomes of cabinet formation in seven countries (Australia, Canada, Chile, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States), relying on elite interviews, media data, and autobiographies of cabinet members. Beckwith and her co-authors employ a cross-time, cross-country feminist institutionalist analysis to explain how political actors use their agency to interpret and exploit ambiguity in rules to deviate from past practices of appointing mostly men to cabinet posts. When they do so, presidents and prime ministers create different opportunities for men and women to be selected, explaining why some democracies have appointed more women to cabinet than have others.

This dynamic produces new rules about women’s inclusion and, as Cabinets, Ministers, and Gender explains, the emergence of a concrete floor, defined as a minimum number of women who must be appointed to a cabinet to ensure its legitimacy. Historically, men have been more likely to be appointed to governing cabinets, but gendered patterns of appointment vary cross-nationally, and women’s inclusion in cabinets has grown significantly over time. This book breaks new theoretical ground by conceiving of cabinet formation as a gendered, iterative process governed by rules that empower and constrain presidents and prime ministers in the criteria they use to make appointments.

The Department of Political Science’s Undergraduate Research and Mentoring Assistantship Program (URMAP) funded several political science majors who worked with Professor Beckwith on research for the book: Olivia Ortega (’16), Kirsten Costedio (’19), Rita Maricocchi (’18), and Gillian Prater-Lee (’20).  All these students are acknowledged in the book.

Cabinets, Ministers, and Gender, published in hard cover, paperback, and ebook formats, will be available at the 2019 American Political Science Association meetings in Washington, DC.  Click here for more information about Professor Beckwith’s book.

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