A handful of women who have influenced political and social policy have been profiled in a new book written by an East Carolina University professor.
Bonnie G. Mani’s book, “Women, Power, and Political Change” (Lexington Books 2007), features biographies of 16 historic women who have worked to change U.S. laws and policies.
“My interest was piqued by what it takes for women to bring about policy change,” said Mani, a professor of public administration in ECU’s Political Science department. “The analysis shows that women can influence public policy without holding elected office and without personal wealth, but the process is slow without the power inherent in position and wealth.”
Mani discussed the book last month at an ECU Women’s Studies event at the Tipsy Teapot in Greenville.
The 16 women include Anne Hutchinson, Abigail Adams, the Grimke sisters, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone, Harriet Tubman, Jane Addams, Carrie Chapman Catt, Alice Paul and Ida B. Wells-Barnett.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-New York), and Sen. Elizabeth Hanford Dole (R-North Carolina) are profiled.
Mani found that nearly all women highlighted came from religious, politically active families; that much of their activity took place in Washington D.C, or in the Northeast; that the women all lived to be very old and remained active well into their latter years; most and that education played a role in their activism.
“Education is absolutely critical,” she said. “These women (Dole and Clinton) would never be where they are today without their law degrees.”
Mani, who has worked at ECU since 1992, teaches a women and politics course at ECU and wrote this book in part because many of the textbooks tended to be issues-centered, not people-centered.
“My students said they wanted to talk more about the women in politics,” she said. “There are a lot of statistical summaries out there, but the students didn’t know much about these women and their lives.”