By Barbara Burrell
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Additional resources for A Woman's Place Is in the House: Campaigning for Congress in the Feminist Era
S. House of Representatives. These factors are prior to campaign experiences in determining electoral outcomes. A third factor must also be taken into account in assessing the presence of women as candidates for national office in the contemporary era-opportunity. Efforts to increase women's candidacies have collided with limited political opportunities in recent elections. The political opportunity structure conditions the viability of campaigns for public office. At the same time as the public became more supportive of the idea of women in political life, the competitiveness of seats for the House declined.
By 1992, women candidates were seen as agents of change, and change was what Americans appeared to want after years of scandals and inaction on domestic problems. Women still faced some resistance, and they still had to overcome structural barriers that limited their ability to make revolutionary strides in winning public office. But that year provided a window of opportunity regarding the electoral structure because of the open seats created by redistricting. Simultaneously the Clarence Thomas hearings provided a rally- 30 A Woman's Place Is in the House ing cry for feminists, an opportunity to raise funds and gain new members by widely exposing the absence of women in the Senate.
But the ascribing of political significance to women's candidacies in terms of it being their "year" (or her year) was not initiated in 1992. Jules Witcover first used the phrase in the national media in 1974 to describe women's political opportunities. s In a column titled "Women Candidates Capitalizing on Clean Political Image," Witcover wrote: 5. Reference to this phrase can be traced even earlier. In 1972, Life magazine ran an article on women politicians in that year's election which began "It may not quite be the Year of the Woman" (June 9).
A Woman's Place Is in the House: Campaigning for Congress in the Feminist Era by Barbara Burrell