Gender, politics and policy

Course content

This course aims to familiarize students with the study of politics and policy from gender and feminist perspectives.


This course introduces students to a broad range of theoretical and empirical approaches to the study of gender, politics and policy. This includes familiarizing students with the major contributions of feminist theories to the analysis of politics in general, and of gender equality policies in particular. Students will develop their ability to critically assess the manner in which public policies affect the social, economic, and political citizenship and lived experience of men and women over time. During the course, we will consider questions such as: What impact does women’s presence in the policy process have on gender equality outcomes? How do past and present policies structure different groups’

and especially women’s, status and welfare in society? What institutional and policy instruments do we have to try and improve gender equality across different aspects of social and political life?


In sum, the course aims:

  • To introduce students to the theories, concepts and methods with which to compare, critically understand and systematically analyse public and social policy from feminist and gender perspectives;
  • To provide students with a critical understanding of how past and present policies structure different groups’ status and welfare;
  • To help students acquire the practical skills to research and analyse and evaluate policies using feminist and gendered lenses, and generate well-founded and insightful assessments of the impact of policies on different groups’ political, economic, and social equality.


To do this, the course is structured into two parts. The first part introduces students to key theories and concepts used in feminist and gendered analysis of politics and policy, with a particular focus on actor- and institution-centered theories of women’s political representation. In this part, students will also become acquainted with the methods and principles underpinning feminist and gender approaches to policy analysis. The second part of the course invites students to examine some of the different policies and strategies used to improve equality and women’s welfare and rights, as well as critically explore contemporary debates on policy issues that affect women’s lived experience, such as commercial sex and reproductive rights.


The weekly content is structured as follows:


  1. Introduction: What’s the problem?
  2. Theorising feminist policy
  3. Theorising women’s political representation
  4. Sex, gender, and intersectionality
  5. Feminist policy actors
  6. Institutionalising equality
  7. Feminist and gendered policy analysis and evaluation
  8. Legal and political tools to improve gender equality
  9. (Policy theme 1) Invisible women: Data and designing a gender equal world
  10. (Policy theme 2) Breadwinner: Governing women’s labour
  11. (Policy theme 3) Sex wars: Current debates over policies on commercial sex
  12. (Policy theme 4) Veiled threats? The politics of women’s presence
  13. (Policy theme 5) Mothers of the Nation: The new politics of reproduction
  14. Conclusion

Bachelor: 7,5 ECTS

Kandidat: 7,5 ECTS

Learning outcome


On completion of the course, students should be able to:

  • Identify, summarise and differentiate between key theories and concepts used in studying politics and public policy from a gender perspective;
  • Critically interpret current public policy research on issues of gender and equality by reflecting on methodological and theoretical strengths and weaknesses;
  • Describe and evaluate the role of actors, institutions and ideas in shaping policy decisions;
  • Describe current and historical international gender equality policy trends in key sectors (such as health and representation).



On completion of the course, students should be able to:

  • Organise and carry out policy analyses from a gender perspective, and communicate policy-relevant information effectively across a range of formats including independent research and through oral contribution to group discussion;
  • Engage in critical and theory-informed debates about policy processes and outcomes from a gender perspective;

Compare and evaluate equality policies in all areas using theoretically-informed feminist and gender policy analysis tools



On completion of the course, students should be able to:

  • Reflect on how to engage effectively in the policy process;
  • Critically evaluate a diverse range of academic and lay policy-relevant information;
  • Collaborate with peers in problem-solving and discussion tasks on topics related to gender, politics and policy;
  • Plan and manage a free written research assignment on a gender equality policy topic of interest;
  • Connect key feminist and gender concepts and theories to areas of policy beyond that discussed in class

Classes will comprise mini-lectures, small group exercises, presentations by students on the key reading or their assignment topic, and frequent whole-group discussion

The following are an indicative list of key readings associated with the course:


Bacchi, Carol (1999) Women, policy and politics. The construction of policy problems. London: Sage.


Outshoorn, Joyce y Johanna Kantola eds. (2007) Changing State Feminism. Houndmills: Palgrave.


Stratigaki, Maria (2005) “Gender Mainstreaming vs Positive Action: An on-going Conflict in EU Gender Equality Policy”, European Journal of Women’s Studies, 12(2): 165-86.


Joni Lovenduski (ed.) (2005) State Feminism and Political Representation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Verloo, Mieke ed. (2007) Multiple Meanings of Gender Equality. A Critical Frame Analysis of Gender Policies in Europe. Budapest: CEU.


Celis, Karen, Johanna Kantola, Georgina Waylen, and S. Laurel Weldon. (2013). “Introduction: Gender and Politics: A Gendered World, a Gendered Discipline”, in The Oxford Handbook of Gender and Politics, edited by

Georgina Waylen, Karen Celis, Johanna Kantola,and S. Laurel Weldon. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Kantola, Johanna. (2006). Feminists Theorize the State. Houndmills: Palgrave.


Scott, J. (1986). “Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis”, American Historical Review, 91(5): 1053–1075.


Benschop, Yvonne and Verloo, Mieke (2006) '"Sisyphus‟ Sisters”: Can Gender Mainstreaming Escape the Genderedness of Organizations?', Journal of Gender Studies, 15(1), 19-33.


Verloo, Mieke. (2006).”Multiple Inequalities, Intersectionality and the European Union”, European Journal of Women's Studies, 13(3): 211-228.


Walby, Sylvia (2005) “Gender mainstreaming: Productive tensions in theory and practice”, Social Politics, 12(3): 321-343.


Ferree, M. M. and A. M. Tripp (eds.), (2006), Globalization and Feminism: Opportunities and Obstacles for Activism in the Global Arena. New York: New York University Press.


McBride Dorothy and Amy Mazur, eds (2010), The Politics of State Feminism. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.


Squires, Judith. 2007. The New Politics of Gender Equality. Basingstoke: Palgrave.


Celis, Karen. 2009. “Substantive Representation of women (and improving it): what it is and should be about?”, Comparative European Politics, 7(1): 95–11.


Lombardo, Emanuela and Petra Meier (2014) The symbolic representation of gender. A discursive approach. Aldershot: Ashgate.


Dahlerup, Drude (ed.) (2006) Women, Quotas and Politics. Routledge.

Lovenduski, Joni (ed.) (2005) State Feminism and Political Representation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Lovenduski, Joni, (2005), Feminizing Politics. Cambridge: Polity.

Outshoorn, Joyce and Johanna Kantola (eds), (2007), Changing State Feminism. Houndmills: Palgrave.


Mazur, Amy, (2002), Theorizing Feminist Policy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Mazur, Amy, and Isabelle Engeli, (2018), “Taking implementation seriously in assessing success: The politics of fender equality policy”, European Journal of Politics and Gender, 1(1): 111-129.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)



7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Free Written Assignement
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

Criteria for exam assesment

  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • English
  • 28


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 semester

Department of Political Science, Study Council
Contracting department
  • Department of Political Science
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Social Sciences
Course Coordinator
  • Emily Flore St Denny   (2-73724e7774813c79833c7279)
Saved on the 29-10-2021

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