The Centenary of the 19th Amendment: New Reflections on the History and Future of Gender, Representation, and Citizenship Rights

Thursday, March 26, 2020
Boston University School of Law
Barristers Hall

This  one-day conference will feature  presentations and discussions by legal and political science scholars, political practitioners, and others reflecting on lessons from the centenary of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution for understanding the past, present, and future of gender, empowerment, representation and citizenship rights. The conference is sponsored by the Boston University School of Law, the Department of Political Science, and the Research in American Politics Workshop. Conference organizers and contacts are: Linda C. McClain (BU Law), and Virginia Sapiro (Political Science),

Program and Schedule
(as of January 30, 2020)

Welcome: 10:00-10:10 a.m.: Angela Onwuachi-Willig, Dean and Professor of Law, Boston University

Panel 1: The 19th Amendment in Historical Context (10:10-11:40 a.m.)

The conference opens with investigations of and reflections on understanding the history of the struggle for the vote and other political and legal rights for women. Taking seriously the importance of intersectional understandings of gender, and gender politics, we pay particular attention to the linked politics of gender, race, and class. We ask: what is the contemporary significance of understanding the history of gender-based politics and political struggles?

  • Lolita Buckner-Inniss, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law, Southern Methodist University, “’While the Water is Stirring’: Suffrage and the Past, Present and Future of (Black) Women’s Rights”
  • Kristin Collins, Professor of Law, Boston University, “Citizenship by Committee: Women’s Nationality Rights in the Post-Suffrage Era”
  • Jill Hasday, Distinguished McKnight University Professor, Centennial Professor in Law, University of Minnesota, “Invisible Women: How Erasing Women’s Struggles for Equality Perpetuates Inequality”
  • Corrine McConnaughy, Associate Professor of Political Science, George Washington University, “School and Square Divided: The Divergent Politics of School and Partisan Suffrage for American Women”
  • Virginia Sapiro, Professor of Political Science and Dean Emerita of Arts & Sciences, Boston University, “The Power and Fragility of Social Movement Coalitions: Suffrage 1860-1880”

Lunch (with small group discussions): 11:40 a.m.-12:40 p.m.

Panel 2: Women in the Electoral Arena a Century Later: Perspectives of Political Practitioners  (12:45-2 p.m.)

One of the forces supporting an increase of women candidates and elected leaders is the increase of organizations dedicated to encouraging and training women to run for office and supporting them in their efforts. This session is a roundtable discussion among women dedicating their careers to this effort. These experts, facilitated by a scholar with expertise on women, elections, and campaigns, will discuss and debate the opportunities and challenges facing women in the electoral arena. The experts, political and campaign professionals, will be chosen to represent the two major parties as well as specialists in encouraging political leadership by women of different racial/ethnic and social groups.


  • Kelly Dittmar, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Rutgers University – Camden and Scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics, Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University- New Brunswick, Facilitator
  • Nina Liang, Emerge Massachusettts
  • Eva M. Pusateri, President, Expert Communications & Training
  • Mayor Yvonne M. Spicer, Framingham, Massachusetts

Panel 3: Women’s Rights, Political Power and Presence a Century Later: A Sampler of Scholarship (2:15-3:45 p.m.)

This panel offers a selection of ongoing research by legal scholars and political scientists on current issues of legal and political rights and empowerment of women.

  • Nadia E. Brown, Associate Professor of Political Science and African American Studies, Purdue University, “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair: Black women political elites and partisan politics”
  • Paula Monopoli, Sol & Carlyn Hubert Professor of Law and Founding Director, Women Leadership & Equality Program, University of Maryland, “Gender and Constitutional Design: Retrofitting the Constitution”
  • Katharine B. Silbaugh, Professor of Law, Boston University, “Universal Franchise and the Voting Age”
  • Franita Tolson, Vice Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs, Professor of Law, University of Southern California, “Defining the Political Community of the Nineteenth Amendment”

Panel 4:  The Next Century? Implications of the Past and Present for the Future (4:00-5:15 p.m.)

This concluding panel will offer brief reflections and observations based on the prior panels and fresh reflections on future challenges concerning women and political leadership, followed by general discussion. It will include some speakers from earlier in the day.


  • Linda C. McClain, Robert Kent Professor of Law, Boston University
  • Other speakers to be named.