Erin Semon


The Gateway: Private Women, Public World



This body of research aims to examine the role of women’s political networks in aiding women’s entrance into the public sphere. Using the case of Emily’s List as a model, this thesis compares and contrasts the role of Emily’s List in both the United States and Australia in facilitating women entering the public sphere. Using primary data such as interviews and questionnaires to form an understanding of Emily’s List, my thesis will define the context for the success of women’s political networks in contemporary Western democracies.

Utilising relevant theoretical frameworks including feminist accounts of political representation, public sphere theory instituted by Jurgen Habermas, re-conceptualisations of the public sphere posited by Nancy Fraser (1990), Michael Warner (2002) Lisa McLaughlin (1995, 1993) and others, this thesis will interrogate the position of women in the political public sphere via their participation in women’s political networks such as Emily’s List. Two key questions frame this research:

  • How does Emily’s List facilitate the entrance of women into the public sphere in the United States and Australia, and
  • How does Emily’s List challenge previous notions of the public sphere?

Key Terms include:

Public Sphere, Feminism, Representation, Political Action Committee, Women’s Political Networks, Publicity, Public Opinion, Discourse