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Political Science/Women's Studies 357: Gender Politics: Assignment

State Choice

Choose a state X

Ideally, each student should choose the state that interests her/him the most. Practically, however, research materials may be severely limited for some states (especially via remote access), or they may be severely taxed if too many students wish to the same state. To alleviate such problems, students should submit three choices, in rank order.  If students have great difficulty locating or gathering sufficient research materials for their chosen state, they may, in consultation with and subject to the approval of the instructors, choose another state.




Choose a policy or policy area Y

Students may choose from the following list, or propose a different option. Any proposed policy or policy area not included on the list below is subject to the approval of the instructors. If students have great difficulty locating or gathering sufficient research materials for their chosen policy, they may, in consultation with and subject to the approval of the instructors, choose another.


  •  Welfare (e.g., Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, food stamps, etc.)
  •  Reproductive Rights (e.g., abortion, family planning, sex education, etc.)
  • Gay Rights (e.g., same-sex marriage, civil unions, domestic partner benefits, protection against employment discrimination, hate crimes, etc.)
  • Women’s Healthcare (e.g., mandated insurance coverage, state Medicaid coverage, etc.)
  • Human Trafficking (i.e., the illegal harboring of persons for labor or sexual exploitation; prosecution, victim services, prevention, etc.)
  • Family Law and Work-Family Balance (e.g., divorce, child support/custody, parental leave, child care)





Components of Assignments

Preliminary list of sources Immediately upon receiving your state assignment, students should start gathering research materials with which to address parts (c)-(e). The preliminary list of sources should include a mix of scholarly, news media, governmental, and non-governmental organizational publications.  Full citations must be provided for each source. A minimum of eight sources is expected. At least five of those sources should be annotated. Annotations should be no more than a paragraph indicating the type of information provided by the source and explaining how that information will utilized in the paper (e.g., to address part c, d, or e). Students may include sources (no more than two) that, upon further investigation, proved to be less useful than expected. Annotations for such rejected or discounted sources should explain why or how the source is inadequate.

Preliminary outline of parts (c) and (d) First, summarize briefly (2-3 paragraphs) the Y policy (or policies) adopted by state X, and how that policy compares to those of the other states. Is it more or less liberal, feminist, generous, and/or restrictive than others? Is state X’s policy unusual or typical? Then propose at least two plausible explanations or theories for why state X adopted policy(ies) Y. If possible, propose at least one implausible explanation/theory as well. Explain briefly why you believe each explanation is or is not plausible. Was it suggested by any of the course reading materials or any of your own preliminary research? If so, which ones? One brief paragraph—with citations—should be sufficient for each theory, explanation, or explanatory factor.

Final Papers

 Each paper should discuss parts (c)-(e) in full, within approximately 15 typed, double-spaced pages. Proper documentation of sources is a must. Effective, well organized, and grammatically correct writing, as well as thorough proofreading are expected.



Subject Guide

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Chris Palazzolo
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