Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Political Science

Committee Chair

Jeff Worsham

Committee Co-Chair

Erin Cassese

Committee Member

Shauna Fisher

Committee Member

John Kilwein

Committee Member

L C Plein


The purpose of this dissertation is to examine the role of gender in shaping policies and politics. In the first empirical chapter, I explore support for women candidates for elected office and positions of public authority. The chapter investigates how membership in groups defined by race and gender shapes attitudes towards women holding political office. Next, I map how the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) made it to the legislative agenda and seek to answer the question of how gender entered the discussion of violence. Using the literature on issue framing and entrepreneurship, I explore how attention to the issue of domestic violence resulted in the passage of the VAWA. The final empirical chapter examines how state supreme courts deal with women who are victims of domestic violence.