The Women's Rights Lobby in the Gender Gap Congress, 1983-84


  • Joan Hulse Thompson



This paper analyzes the successes and failures of the women's right lobby during the 98th Congress, when the media made the "gender gap" a political watchword and legislators were unusually anxious to show support for women's issues. A similarly favorable climate had existed ten years earlier, but the women's interest groups were new to lobbying, had little coordination and were unable to attract coalition partners among more established groups. This time they had the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues as a liaison to over 100 House members, an agreed agenda called the Economic Equity Act and 165 allied organizations making up the Leadership Conference for Civil Rights. By playing the gender gap the Caucus and women lobbyists were able to win enactment of pension reform and child support enforcement legislation. While the gender gap is no longer in the headlines, some momentum has been retained.