Tag Archives: politics

The Impact of Family Obligations on Women’s Willingness to Seek Election to and Serve in U.S. Legislatures

Image by DonkeyHotey via Flickr CC

This article is a Scholars Strategy Network Brief.

Download a PDF from SSN.

Rachel Silbermann
Rachel Silbermann is in the Department Political Science at Yale University. Both her teaching and her research topics are focused on the American politics around race, class, and gender, political psychology, and empirical methodology. Read more in her work in the forthcoming Quarterly Journal of Political Science, “Gender Roles, Work-Life Balance, and Running for Office.”

Half a century after the start of the modern feminist movement, American women make up only 19% of the U.S. Congress and just 24% of all state legislators. Many factors help to explain such severe underrepresentation – and one of the key issues is that political careers are particularly lacking in job flexibility. Elected officials work long hours, travel extensively, and cannot easily interrupt work obligations to care for children. Because women still do most of the housework and child care, challenges in balancing their obligations dissuade many from running for public offices, in the same way that women often avoid other inflexible careers like business leadership.

When women forego legislative careers, it matters not only for the individuals involved, but for states and the nation, because female politicians are more likely to raise issues and vote for policies that matter to women. With women underrepresented in the halls of government, our democracy not only misses out on vital talent; it cannot fully address everyone’s concerns. (more…)

The Harm Done by Media Coverage of Political Disputes about Public Health Measures

Image by Dept of Foreign Affairs & Trade via Flickr CC

This article is a Scholars Strategy Network Brief.

Download a PDF from SSN.

Erika Fowler
Erika Fowler is in the Department of Government at Wesleyan University. She specializes in political communication – particularly campaign advertising. She directs the Wesleyan Media Project.
Sarah Gollust
Sarah Gollust is in the School of Public Health at University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. Her research interests include public opinion and the media influence on public health practice and policy.

Media stories about measles outbreaks in California and Arizona have featured prominent politicians weighing in with conflicting messages. Should vaccination be required for all children with few exceptions? Are vaccines safe? Should parents have a choice – when refusing vaccines can put their own and other people’s children at grave risk? The stories are dramatic, but scholars and public officials warn that it is dangerous to turn vaccination into a political football. Other widely publicized controversies reveal that the insertion of politics into media coverage can be hard to reverse, as it may undermine public trust in doctors and public health officials.

Political Controversy Sticks

Our research examines two recent politically charged health controversies – the 2009 dust-up over mammography screening guidelines and the 2006-2007 debate over whether middle schools should require girls to get vaccinated against infections by the human papillomavirus (“HPV” for short). Specifically, we found that local and national media coverage did not start with a focus on political controversy. But once news stories started to highlight partisan arguments among political leaders, political controversies became the focus of subsequent coverage. (more…)

Schools Adopting Digital Tools Without Evidence that they Boost Student Achievement

Image by Brett Levin via Flickr CC
Patricia Burch Portrait
Patricia Burch is in the department of Education at the University of Southern California. Her newest book titled Equal Scrutiny: Privatization and Accountability in Digital Education (Harvard Education Press, co-authored with Annalee Good) addresses the push towards technology use within education.
Annalee Good Profile
Annalee Good is in the Center for Education Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. One of her current projects is the forthcoming book Equal Scrutiny: Privatization and Accountability in Digital Education (Harvard Education Press) in which she co-authors with Patricia Burch from University if Southern California.
Carolyn J. Heinrich is a Sid Richardson Professor of Public Affairs and an Affiliated Professor of Economics at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin. Her research focuses on education and social welfare policy, public management and performance management, and social program evaluation.
Chandi Wagner
Chandi Wagner is in the graduate program at University of Texas at Austin School of Public Affairs. Her expertise is in School Reform and K-12 Education.

At all levels from kindergarten to twelfth grade, American schools are making huge investments in digital education – with proponents often touting digital tools as a way to close achievement gaps and improve learning opportunities for economically and academically disadvantaged students. Digital instruction – using computers, netbooks, or handheld devices – is rapidly spreading in classrooms and supplemental areas of instruction. Big money is in play: One estimate values the U.S. school market for education software and digital content at nearly $8 billion. Advances in technology allow digital tools to offer the promise of broad access at low cost, competing with face-to-face methods of instruction for shrinking funds. But with schools inundated with new digital tools, little attention has been paid to whether teachers, parents, and students are putting them to effective use. (more…)

Targeting Muslim Americans in the Name of National Security

A Muslim American woman watches her child play soccer in Kapolei, Hawaii. Photo by Keoni Cabral via Flickr CC. Click for original.
Saher Selod
Saher Selod is in the department of sociology at Simmons College in Boston. Her research examines the American Muslim experience in the years after 9/11.

Years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the daily lives of American Muslims continue to be affected by the anxieties and policies those attacks unleashed. Because so many of their fellow citizens see them as both physically threatening and culturally inferior, Muslim-Americans endure regular expressions of hostility at their jobs and in public spaces. They are also the target of government policies aimed at securing the country from another terrorist attack.

Every single day in U.S. airports, for example, Muslim Americans are treated as dangerous. Quite a few men have been told they are on a No-Fly List when they attempt to check in for flights; and women who wear the hijab or other religious clothing are often stopped and searched by Transportation and Security Administration agents. Such government actions are not only a problem for the people affected; they also convey the broader message that Muslims are a threat to national security and require careful monitoring and surveillance. (more…)

How New Digital Technologies Make It Possible To Privatize Censorship and Manipulate Citizen-Users

Photo by Phillong.Me.UK via Flickr CC. Click for original.
Rex Troumbley is in the political science program at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa. At the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, he helped monitor global Internet censorship and participated in the design of a global governing body scheduled to assume management of Internet addresses from ICANN in late 2015.

For most Americans, protecting free expression means countering threats from government. Private corporations are not usually seen as threatening free speech. But as private technology companies increasingly mediate access to information and services, the distinction between governmental and private censorship becomes less clear. Concepts of free speech and freedom of expression may need to be revised and enlarged to take account of new threats in the age of digital communications—and policies to protect freedom of expression may need to counter threats, often subtle, from the private sector as well as government. (more…)

Are Americans Really Anti-Intellectual?

Inventing the Egghead cover
Aaron S. Lecklikder is in the department of American Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He is the author of Inventing the Egghead: The Battle Over Brainpower in American Culture.

Media coverage often implies that Americans are ill-informed or hate intellectuals. Politicians are known to make fun of the highly educated—as Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown did when he sneeringly tried to slight his 2012 election opponent, Elizabeth Warren, as “the professor.” Or media features may play up the supposed popularity of ignorance, as in the spoofs of Sarah Palin’s 2008 vice-presidential campaign and television coverage of grammatical errors in signs at Tea Party rallies. In such instances current news events are sometimes said to reflect a long history of American “anti-intellectualism.” So frequently does that term get bandied about in the mainstream media that it almost seems obvious that Americans really do revel in ignorance and mockery of the best-educated.

But in fact, positing anti-intellectualism as typical for America is a relatively recent phenomenon. The term “anti-intellectual” has appeared in the New York Times over 650 times since 1870, and more than three-quarters of the times happened after historian Richard Hofstadter published his 1964 book Anti-Intellectualism in American Life. For nearly 100 years, in short, Americans were rarely described as anti-intellectual. Only over the most recent half century, has “anti-intellectualism” become a recurrent interpretive lens to make sense of society and politics. It is worth looking more closely, as I have done in my work, to better understand the concept and the realities. (more…)

The Roots of Multicultural Diversity in Revolutionary America

Image from Mark Rain via Flickr Creative Commons
Ben Railton
Ben Railton is in the department of English studies at Fitchburg State University. He is the author of The Chinese Exclusion Act: What It Can Teach Us about America.

Opinions vary about whether multiculturalism and ethnic and racial diversity are divisive or beneficial to contemporary American society – but most of those discussing the issue presume that these are relatively recent trends, especially characteristic of the late-twentieth and early twenty-first century United States. The Immigration Act of 1965 is often cited as a watershed moment, a major policy change that opened the door to unusually diverse streams of immigrants, giving rise both to new ethnic, religious, and linguistic groups – and also sparking nativist reactions based on worries about a fraying national community. But a look back across U.S. history reveals that ethnic diversity and multiculturalism are hardly modern innovations.

Indeed, multicultural realities and ideals were present from the U.S. founding. Subsequent eras have brought new waves of arrivals, adding more cultures, religions, and languages into the mix, but not changing America’s core identity so much as adding to it. Only one major time period – the era between the 1920s Quota Acts and the 1965 Immigration Act – brought a temporary partial delay in the U.S. march toward greater cultural diversity. (more…)

The Benefits of President Obama’s Program to Protect Undocumented Immigrants Who Arrived as Children Before 2007

Roberto Gonzales
Roberto G. Gonzales is in the department of sociology at Harvard University.He is the co-author of Dreaming Beyond the Fields: Undocumented Youth, Rural Realities, and a Constellation of Disadvantage.

August 15, 2014 marks the second anniversary of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama administration program to protect young undocumented immigrants originally brought to the United States as children. If these young people were brought across the border before 2007 as minors under the care of adults, America is effectively the country they have grown up in and, the President argued, it makes no sense to threaten them with removal. Under the Deferred Action program, if such youths and young adults have stayed out of legal trouble and go through a specified application process that includes paying a hefty $465 fee, they are exempted from the threat of deportation for two years at a time and granted Social Security numbers and renewable work permits. As of March 2014, 673,417 young people had applied to the program and 553,197 were approved for its protections and benefits. Very soon, temporary protection will begin to expire for the earliest Deferred Action applicants. Many beneficiaries have begun to apply for renewals, but community-based organizations realize that they need to mobilize, both to encourage renewals and to draw more eligible applicants into the program. (more…)

The Downsides of Excluding Millions of Immigrants From Health Reform

Image from scottmontreal via Flickr Creative Commons
Heide Castaneda
Heide Castañeda is in the department of anthropology at the University of South Florida. She is the co-author of Ethnographic Insights on Displacement, Migration, and Deservingness in Contemporary Global Contexts.

The Affordable Care Act of 2010 promises to extend health insurance coverage to tens of millions of uninsured people across the United States – but not to everyone. Non-citizens are among those most likely to lack health insurance coverage, yet large segments of the immigrant population have been excluded from the benefits of health reform – and may face greater barriers in the future than in the past. (more…)

Will the United States Adopt Start-Up Immigrant Visas to Foster Economic Innovation?

Image from rickpilot_2000 via Flickr Creative Commons
Natalie Novick
Natalie Novick is in the sociology program at the University of California, San Diego. Her areas of expertise include international labor migration, new technology and policymaking in the United States and in the EU

In the fall of 2013, Stanislav Korsei and Oleksandr Zadorozhnyi arrived in Vancouver, Canada, bringing with them from their home country, the Ukraine, a new tech company called Zeetl Incorporated. Their arrival to build a new life in Canada was enabled by a successful application to that country’s Start-Up Visa program, one of the world’s first to offer permanent residency status to young immigrant entrepreneurs and their families. Korsei and Zadorozhnyi secured $30,000 in funding from a Canadian business accelerator, which entitled them to apply for the program. One year later, Zeetl was acquired by Canadian social media company Hootsuite. The exact valuation of Zeetl has not been disclosed; the deal illustrates tangible results for Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program, and Korsei and Zadorozhnyi are already working on their next startups. (more…)