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SMU Tower Center hosts ‘Women in Politics’ symposium

Former U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison to give keynote address

Kay Bailey Hutchison
Kay Bailey Hutchison

January 9, 2013

DALLAS (SMU) — The SMU John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies will host a daylong “Women In Politics” Symposium presented by Charles and Jane Harrell Pierce, Wednesday, Jan. 30, at the Meadows Museum at SMU.

Former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison will deliver the keynote address during lunch from 12:15 – 2 p.m. She will speak on the role and the presence of women in the U.S. political arena.

The symposium is free and open to the public. More information and registration is available at Tower Center Events.

“The participation of women in American politics continues to evolve and through our involvement, significant policy changes that affect all Americans have occurred,” Hutchison said. “We must continue to encourage women to participate in public service so that America in its entirety is accurately represented in the U.S. Congress.”

According to the Center for American Women and Politics, a record number of women will serve in the 113th Congress. A total of 20 women (16 Democrats and four Republicans) will serve in the U.S. Senate, up from 17 serving in the last Congress, and 78 women (58 Democrats and 20 Republicans) will serve in the U.S. House, up from 73 in the last Congress. Hutchison was one of two Republican women (Olympia Snowe of Maine was the other) who did not run for re-election to the Senate in November.

The symposium will explore the landscape for women as candidates for elective office in the United States, especially in state legislatures and the U.S. Congress. The panels will discuss questions such as why progress in recruiting and electing women has been sluggish and differences between the national parties in efforts to recruit and elect women. SMU political science professor Dennis Simon and Baldwin Wallace University political scientist Barbara Palmer will be featured panelists, discussing the findings in their 2012 book, Women and Congressional Elections: A Century of Change.

“This symposium is designed to gather both scholars and practitioners for a broad-ranging discussion about women as candidates and officeholders in the U.S. Congress,” Simon said. “We plan to explore two issues.  The first is the growing disparity between the number of Democratic and Republican women elected to Congress and the state legislatures.  Our second concern involves the impediments that women face in running for office and how the media cover their campaigns.”

In 1993, Texans elected Hutchison to the United States Senate in a special election, making her the first – and, to date, the only – woman elected to represent the state in the Senate. One year later, she was re-elected to a full six-year term. Hutchison has served in the Senate leadership, having first been elected Vice-Chairman of the Republican Conference and later elected Chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, the fourth-highest ranking Republican senator. When she left the Senate at the end of the 112th Congress Hutchison was the Ranking Member on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and the Appropriations Subcommittee for Commerce, Justice, and Science. She was Chairman of the Military Construction Appropriations Sub-Committee and also served on the Defense Appropriations Sub-Committee.

The John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies was created to commemorate the late United States senator whose life was dedicated to public service and education. In the spirit of John Tower‘s commitment to educate and inspire a new generation of thoughtful leaders, the Tower Center seeks to bridge the gap between the world of ideas, scholarship and teaching and the practice of politics. The primary mission of the Tower Center is to promote the study of politics and international affairs and to stimulate an interest in ethical public service among undergraduates. The Tower Center is an academic center where all parties and views are heard in a marketplace of ideas, and the Center will pursue its mission in a non-partisan manner.

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