The League of Women Voters of Oak Ridge invites community friends to Lunch with the League at Noon, Tuesday, November 17. Seeking to protect everyone’s wellbeing during this time of pandemic, the gathering will again be virtual. Those desiring to gain access to the meeting may do so by following instructions provided at the close of this article.
The November 17 gathering will focus on “Changes in Female Leadership after 100 years of U.S. Women’s Suffrage.” Dr. Emily Schilling, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, will be the speaker.
The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution became law on August 26, 1920; and women, following decades of struggle, finally won the right to vote. Six months earlier, forward-looking members of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, meeting in Chicago, launched the League of Women Voters, “a mighty political experiment” to help prepare the resulting 20 million new voters to shoulder their responsibilities.
Far from a moment to romanticize, the centennial our nation has just observed, calls for honesty. It is a moment to acknowledge openly, United States League of Women Voters CEO Virginia Kase insists, the failures of the past when women of color and others were effectively barred from voting because of oppressive Jim Crow laws, poll taxes and literacy tests. And it is time, she goes on, to address rising impediments of our own day.
Undoubtedly, the political status of women has changed in our country over the last 100 years. In the last two decades we have seen the first woman elected as Speaker of the House, two women nominated to be Vice President, and one nominated to be President. In 2019, the largest and most diverse class of women to date entered the U.S. House, resulting in 23.7 percent of the seats in Congress being filled by a woman; and in 2020, the most diverse slate of candidates sought the presidency, and record numbers of women again ran for Congress. All of these changes combined seem to indicate, as Debbie Walsh, Director of Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics, puts it, that “the future of American politics will not be business as usual." Dr. Schilling, will address that future.
Emily Schilling, who joined UTK’s political science department in 2016, completed a doctorate in political science at the University of Iowa and a postdoctoral research fellowship at Washington University in St. Louis. Her interests include American politics, methodology, and formal theory, focusing on the U.S. Congress and state legislatures. She has written numerous articles appearing in peer-reviewed journals that address the issues, conflicts, and polarization surrounding women in politics.
Lunch with the League welcomes League members and nonmembers alike to join us as Dr. Schilling leads us in an investigation of present and future aspects of women’s leadership in American politics.
For instruction on linking to the presentation, contact maryannreeves1 [at] att.net. Anyone not familiar with Zoom meetings should go to https://support.zoom.us and then scroll down to frequently asked questions. A couple of days following the presentation, you may view the recorded presentation on the League’s website (https://my.lwv.org/tennessee/oak-ridge).
The League of Women Voters of Oak Ridge is a nonpartisan political organization for men and women. It encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.