Conservative White Women in Politics

Solicited by the OAH Committee on the Status of Women in the Historical Profession. Endorsed by Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600–2000

Thursday, April 15, 2021, 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM

Type: Roundtable Discussion

Tags: Gender; Politics; Women's History


The 1970s were a crucial decade for major political party realignment in the United States, and issues related to women, gender, and the family propelled that process. By 1980, the Democratic party had embraced the major legislative goals of the vibrant feminist movement(s) that had flourished earlier in the 1970s. The Republican party had shed its prior support of those same goals, including legal abortion and the equal rights amendment, to become the party of “family values.” This roundtable investigates the role that conservative white women—working from the grassroots through the highest echelons of electoral politics—played in that realignment. 

Session Participants

Chair: Stacie Taranto, Ramapo College of New Jersey
Associate Professor of History, Ramapo College of New Jersey

Panelist: Erin M. Kempker
Professor of History, Mississippi University for Women, "Global Conspiracies and Local Activism: How Conservative Women Connect the Local to the Global." 

Panelist: Bianca Rowlett, University of South Carolina Sumter
Assistant Professor of History, University of South Carolina Sumter, "Madame Ambassador: Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, Political Realignment, and Global Diplomacy in the 1970s-80s."

Panelist: Marjorie Julian Spruill, University of South Carolina
Distinguished Professor Emerita of History, University of South Carolina, “How the Conservative Women Movement of the 1970s Changed American Politics.”