Center for American Women & Politics

The Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), a unit of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is nationally recognized as the leading source of scholarly research and current data about American women’s political participation. Its mission is to promote greater knowledge and understanding about women's participation in politics and government and to enhance women's influence and leadership in public life.

CAWP’s education and outreach programs translate research findings into action, addressing women’s under-representation in political leadership with effective, imaginative programs serving a variety of audiences. As the world has watched Americans considering female candidates for the nation's highest offices, CAWP’s nearly four decades of analyzing and interpreting women’s participation in American politics have provided a foundation and context for the discussion.


191 Ryders Lane
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8557
Ph. (732) 932-9384
Fx. (732) 932-6778


Principal Staff

Debbie Walsh, Director
Ph. (732) 932-9384 Ext. 227

Susan J. Carroll, Senior Scholar
Ph. (732) 932-9384 Ext. 235

Katherine Kleeman, Senior Communications Officer
Ph. (732) 932-9384 Ext. 231

Gilda Morales, Project Manager, Information Services
Ph. (732) 932-9384 Ext. 264

Susan Nemeth, Public Relations Specialist
Ph. (732) 932-9384 Ext. 229

Kelly Dittmar, Assistant Research Professor
Ph. (732) 932-9384 Ext. 237

Ruth B. Mandel, Board of Governors Professor of Politics and Director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics
Ph. (732) 932-9384 Ext. 228

Featured Events


Projects & Campaigns

NEW Leadership™

A national bi-partisan program developed by CAWP to address the underrepresentation of women in American politics. The six-day residential summer institute educates college women about the important role that politics plays in their lives and encourages them to become effective leaders in the political arena.

Ready to Run™

A national network of candidate recruitment and training programs committed to electing more women to public office.

Teach a Girl to Lead™

In 2011, President Obama challenged the nations of the world to take action to encourage women's public leadership. In response, a dozen nations, along with the U.S., have joined in the global Equal Futures Partnership launched by Secretary Clinton in 2012, with each country making plans to encourage women to participate fully in public life and to lead and benefit from inclusive economic growth. Teach a Girl to Lead™ is a new initiative from the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) to support and expand civic learning and engagement opportunities for girls and young women.

Pathways to Politics

Pathways to Politics brings teen-age Girl Scouts from around the nation to CAWP for two weeks to learn about women's political participation. In July 2008, CAWP hosted the third Pathways to Politics, building on successful programs in 2004 and 2006. Pathways is a collaboration between CAWP and the Girl Scouts of Central and Southern New Jersey under the national Girl Scout "Destinations" program.


Reports & Resources

Click here for all publications.


Center News

The 2012 Project
Tuesday, July 20, 2010 - 11:11am

The 2012 Project is a national non-partisan campaign to increase the number of women in legislative office by identifying and engaging accomplished women 45 and older from underrepresented fields and industries. These include finance, science, technology, energy, health, environment, small business and international affairs.

A First For New Jersey
Tuesday, January 26, 2010 - 2:54pm

When Susan Shin Angulo raised her right hand and put her left on the Bible last week, she broke through a barrier in New Jersey that had never been shattered before. After being sworn in by Assemblyman Louis D. Greenwald, Angulo became the first Korean-American woman to hold a seat in government in the state.
While there have been several Korean-American men to hold various governmental positions in the state, the Center for American Women and Politics in Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute of Politics said Angulo is the first female government official of Korean descent to serve in any of the state’s elected public offices.
“It was a tremendous honor to win a seat on council,” she said. “But the awareness that I represent a portion of the population who has never seen a Korean-American woman in office before makes this accomplishment even more meaningful to me and my family. I am both proud and humbled that the residents of Cherry Hill have granted me the privilege of representing them, and I plan to do this historic honor justice.”
Members of her family, friends, and the Korean community of Cherry Hill surrounded the first generation Korean-American as she accepted the seat to council last week.
Angulo’s mother and father moved from South Korea to America in 1974, she said. Her father, originally from North Korea, was brought to the south by his father before the Korean War. However, after the war split the country, he was unable to return to the north and never saw his mother, sister, or brother again.
While living in the south he met Susan’s mother, who was born and raised in Pusan, the second-largest city in South Korea. The family emigrated from South Korea in the early seventies and settled in Philadelphia.
The honor of being the first Korean American woman to hold office in the state is indescribable, she said. Continuing the growth of the local Asian communities and helping others become involved in all levels of government is one of her top priorities, she said.
“It was a tremendous growth process for me during the campaign. It was a great honor. Even though I’m the first, I hope I’m not the last. I hope this momentum continues so that all of our residents have a voice in government,” She said. “It’s not just the Korean-American community, but it has to be all of the Asian community. I did receive tremendous support in all of the Asian communities, and I want their voices to be heard.”
Angulo and her husband Michael settled in Cherry Hill in 1999, attracted to the tightly knit community and strong business sector.
While she has received a strong local media push for her accomplishment, South Korea is also picking up on her accomplishments.
“I’ve been so humbled by this coverage throughout the campaign and the election, not only locally, but nationally as well. In fact, my aunt, my mother’s sister, saw me on the Korean news,” she said. “It’s been such an honor; I hope it brings a lot of positive attention to Cherry Hill.”
Cherry Hill has a well-defined Korean population, accounting for nearly 10 percent of township residents as of the 2000 Census Report. With the 2010 Census questionnaires set to arrive in mailboxes across the country by mid-March, local officials predict that it will show this figure has risen over the last decade. Angulo said she is excited to work with every segment of the township’s demographics, but is eager to shine a spotlight on the diversity that is an inherent part of the Cherry Hill community.
Angulo is a 10-year resident of Cherry Hill and previously served on the municipality’s Zoning Board and plays a role in Mayor Bernie Platt’s diversity outreach efforts.


By Robert LinneHan I The Cherry Hill Sun

January 19, 2010

Women Leaders Gain Ground in NJ Politics
Tuesday, January 26, 2010 - 2:42pm

New Jersey inaugurated its first lieutenant governor, Kim Guadagno, yesterday but that was just one of a few firsts this year for women in state government.
While the spotlight may be on the state’s executive branch now, women made strides in the state’s legislature also. Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver, D-Essex, took office last Tuesday to become the state’s first black female and second overall female speaker of the Assembly, while Rutgers School of Law-Camden graduate Senator Barbara Buono, D-Middlesex, rose to a position as the legislative body’s majority speaker.
“To have women in such significant leadership roles really marks a change in politics in the state of New Jersey,” said Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at the Eagleton Institute of Politics.
The state now ranks 16th in the nation in terms of the percentage of women serving in state legislature, she said.
 “When I think of 1776 to the year 2010, and I represent only the second woman given the opportunity to exert leadership, I think that says something very significant about our state and access that has been denied to women,” Oliver said.
Although she has only been in office for one week, the assemblywoman already has an idea of what she would like to see for the future of the state. Job creation will be among her top legislative priorities.
“There are too many New Jerseyans out of work,” she said.  “As a result of that, businesses can’t expand and grow.”
Having women in top positions in government will change the focus of the legislation in New Jersey.
“[Women] do bring a different perspective to the process of making policy and the process of governing,” Walsh said. “We would expect to see that these women will bring some different issues to the agenda.”
CAWP research has shown that women in government tend to hold issues affecting women, children and families as priorities, she said. They also value transparency in government, which Walsh said CAWP will be looking out for as Oliver and Buono progress in their offices.
Although the top executive office is now held by Republican Gov. Chris Christie, there should be a “healthy back and forth” between the executive and legislative branches, Walsh said.
Democrats make up the majority of the state legislature, but they will still have to cooperate with the Christie administration if they expect to make progress, Oliver said.
“We are all going to be placed in a forced partnership with one another,” she said. “It’s going to force compromise, it’s going to force give-and-take.”
Getting more everyday citizens involved in politics is also important to Oliver.
“I would like to encourage more young people to get involved at the community level,” Oliver said. “When you don’t have full citizen participation, you have a handful of people who control, make laws and influence the destinies of everybody.”
She mentioned local government bodies and boards of education as good places for interested young people to start.
Sidrah Sheikh, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, said though she tries to follow politics closely and knows of many female mayors, she was unaware that women had such prominent roles in New Jersey.
“I think it’s good [that women are more involved in government], but I still don’t like the fact that they don’t get that much publicity … You should hear about them more,” she said.



By Colleen Roache


Updated: Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Is Oakland Ready? Jean Quan Hopes To Crack Mayoral Ceiling
Tuesday, January 26, 2010 - 1:55pm

If all politics is local, Oakland City Council member Jean Quan should get a fair shake in that town's mayoral race this year against former California state Senate leader Don Perata. Quan, one of 12 women to ever serve on the City Council (and the first Asian-American woman), hopes to give Perata a run for his money (and he is said to have much more of it than she) on the merits of her two-plus decades of community-oriented work in Oakland.

It was Lailan Huen, Quan's 27-year-old daughter, who eventually convinced her to run for mayor.

"She said, 'Mom, you'll always wonder what a difference it'll have made,' " says Quan, 59, recalling her daughter's encouragement.

The fact that there has never been a woman as mayor of Oakland is something that neither Quan nor her family takes lightly. "The mayor position [in Oakland] has always been a boys club," says Huen. "Women are more collaborative, and that's what's needed."

Indeed, the fact that Oakland, known for its progressive politics and as being one of the most diverse cities in the country, has never elected a female mayor is almost baffling. But the egregious gender gap reflected in our choices for public officeholders is nothing new. From the local level to the federal, men continue to dominate the political landscape: According to Rutgers University's Center for American Women and Politics, of the 1,156 mayors of U.S. cities with populations over 30,000, just 203, or 17.6 percent, were women; similarly, in Congress, women make up about 17 percent of the membership.

What's especially vexing about the gender disparity in politics is that when it comes to many of the qualities people say they value most in leaders, polls show women outperform men. According to the results of a 2008 Pew Research survey, of the two leadership traits that respondents most valued, honesty and intelligence, women outscore men by large margins. In fact, women outscored men in all but three leadership traits: hardworking and ambitious were equally scored; decisiveness is the only trait in which men outscored women. Sixty-nine percent of respondents said that men and women make equally good leaders.

Clearly, there is a disconnect between polling and what happens in the voting booth. We'll see in November whether Quan convinces Oakland voters to back up their claims to pollsters.
By Frances Tobin
Posted: 1/18/10

Legislative Gains For Women a Hopeful Trend
Tuesday, January 26, 2010 - 1:41pm

 By My Central Jersey


January 3, 2010



For the first time ever, New Jersey finds itself among the top 10 states for representation of women in its state

Legislature.That trend indicates real opportunities for women in accessing levers of power.

It's a trend that should also be fostered and encouraged.To put it simply, democracies are strongest when those in

public office reflect the diversity of their populations.That includes gender as well as race. Just five short years ago, New

Jersey was ranked 43rd in the United States in terms of female representation in its state Legislature. Since then, seven  

assemblywomen and two female senators were elected to bring the total to 38 among the state's 120 lawmakers.

In addition, when the New Jersey Legislature convenes in January, women will hold top leadership positions in

both the Senate and Assembly. Sen. Barbara Buono will be the state's first female Senate Majority Leader.

Assemblywoman Sheila Y. Oliver will become Speaker. According to the Center for American Women and Politics at

Rutgers University, New Jersey will be one of only a handful of states where women serve in top legislative posts.

The center compiled a report laying out the general differences between women and men when it comes to

policymaking. By and large, the report found that women politicians tend to be less hawkish, with greater

egalitarian concerns than male politicians. Women politicians are also generally considered more trustworthy

than their male counterparts and tend to have stronger ties to the communities they represent.

Obviously, women are not automatically better candidates than men for public office simply because they are

women. And there's no guarantee that just because a politician is female, she will hold more liberal views than a

male politician. (Remember Margaret Thatcher?)

But the center's study does show that the presence of women in state legislatures makes a significant difference

in the extent to which legislators of both genders consider how laws affect women, racial and ethnic minorities,

and the economically disadvantaged. Women state legislators of both parties are also more likely than male legislators of

either party to work on legislation specifically intended to benefit women.In general, different priorities between male and 

female state representatives creates the potential for a more comprehensive approach to lawmaking — one that

addresses a greater range of societal needs to serve the greater good.

New Jersey's political infrastructure bestows great power on its county chairs who provide both money and

leadership in deciding who will run for legislative office. At the moment, only four of the state's 42 county seats

are held by women. In addition, there are still great gains to be made by women at the national level where none

of New Jersey's 13 seats in the U.S. Congress nor the two seats in the U.S. Senate are held by women. There

has never been a female U.S. Senator from New Jersey and Christine Todd Whitman was the only woman

governor. In total, only five women from New Jersey have been elected to the U.S. House of Representatives

from the New Jersey.

Still, the recent gains in greater female representatives in Trenton are encouraging. While any election should

ideally go to the best candidate regardless of gender, in the traditional, masculine institution known as politics,

women policymakers have been shown to generally work toward creating more just and equitable societies.

New Jersey would do well to encourage its own young women to bring their talents to public office — possibly

through programs that reach out to high school-age girls who are thinking about civic involvement.


Opportunities, Grants & Fellowships

Lipman Chair

The Lipman Chair was created to honor the legacy of the late state senator, the first African American woman in the New Jersey legislature (full biography available here). The Chair was established in 2000 when Governor Christine Todd Whitman signed legislation that had been sponsored by the legislative leaders in both parties and passed in both houses without opposition. The Legislature has generously continued its support for the Lipman Chair.

CAWP Leadership Awards for Douglass Residential College Students

The Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), a unit of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers, recognizes the accomplishments and leadership potential of students from Douglass Residential College with three annual awards. Each award winner receives a cash prize and a certificate.