Women in Power in Post-Communist Parliaments examines the life and work of women who have reached positions of political power after the end of communism in Europe. It explores the roles they have adopted, the relationships they have cultivated, and the agendas they have pursued. In contrast to much of the literature on women in post-communist states, this volume treats the issues comparatively, in six countries with interesting differences—the Czech Republic, Germany (with a focus on parliamentarians from the former GDR), Slovenia, Bulgaria, Poland, and Russia. Interviews with and written statements by the “women in power” give voice to their experiences as political actors within an environment of volatile economies and new foreign engagements.

Marilyn Rueschemeyer is Professor Emerita of Sociology at the Rhode Island School of Design and currently chairs the European Politics Series at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies. Sharon L. Wolchik is Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University.


1. Introduction
Marilyn Rueschemeyer and Sharon L. Wolchik

Part One
2. Women in the Russian Duma
Linda J. Cook and Carol Nechemias
3. Is There a Women’s Lobby in the Polish Parliament: Progress and Current Difficulties
Renata Siemienska
4. Women in the Slovene Parliament: Working toward a Critical Mass
Milica Antic Gaber
5. Women in Power in the Czech Republic: Problems and Prospects
Sharon L. Wolchik
6. East German Women in the Unified German Parliament
Marilyn Rueschemeyer
7. Reflections on the Return of the King: Women in the Bulgarian Parliament
Karen Ghodsee

Part Two
8. Conversations with Russian Parliamentarians
Linda J. Cook and Carol Nechemias
9. The Perspective of the Head of the Parliamentary Women’s Group: Senator Dorota Kempka Speaks with Agnieszka Majcher
10. A Specialist in Culture in the Slovene Parliament
Majda Sirca
11. Negotiating the Czech Parliament
Anna Curdova
12. From the German Democratic Republic to the European Parliament
Constanze Krehl
13. Entering the Bulgarian Parliament
Kina Andreeva

14. Conclusion
Marilyn Rueschemeyer and Sharon L. Wolchik


Women in Power gives us a more personal lens to understand the ways in which the parliaments, as well as the women who have made it into the houses, have adjusted to the new cultures and mandates of the post-communist world.”—Jean Robinson, Indiana University, Bloomington

“This is a highly generative and coherent piece of scholarship. … The most important cross-national comparative book to date on the role of women in post-communist politics.”—Mitchell A. Orenstein, Johns Hopkins University

“By not focusing on the post-communist superstar, this book draws a nuanced picture of the various women serving as members of parliament in the post-communist era. … As the women describe their routes to parliament and their work there, they create an account of their experiences with and in power that is comparable to those of women in the West.”—Elisheva Zakheim, Feminist Review

“[T]his is a well-researched and well-organized volume. It should be standard reading for both scholars interested in woman politicians generally and post-Communist politics in particular. Its importance lies in the questions that it raises, perhaps more so than the answers it provides.”—The Russian Review

“The volume fills an important scholarly gap by examining transitions in the political, economic, and social spheres of the postcommunist world. … [A] real empirical contribution to the study of women in power.”—Slavic Review

“Unlike so many other edited works, with its succinct and suitable introduction and conclusion, Rueschemeyer and Wolchik’s study manages to bring these contributions into a valuable and united whole. … This volume is a valuable addition for students of gender politics, as well as of those of post-Communist Central and East Central European cultures and societies.”—H-SAE, H-Net Reviews

“[T]his edited volume is an important addition to the comparative literature on women in politics. It helps illuminate gender politics in an important, unique, and understudied region. … Overall, this niche-filling book is a welcome addition to the libraries of both political sociologists and gender scholars. It is a valuable resource, whether used for reference or instruction.”—Contemporary Sociology