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The Best-Kept Secret

The Best-Kept Secret: Women Corporate Lobbyists, Policy, and Power in the United States

Denise Benoit
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 182
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  • Book Info
    The Best-Kept Secret
    Book Description:

    From lobbyists such as Jack Abramoff, to corporate executives, like Enron's Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling, recent scandals dealing with politics and government have focused only on men at the top. But do these high-profile men accurately represent the gendered make up of corporate-government in the United States?In this first in-depth look at the changing face of corporate lobbying, Denise Benoit shows how women who have historically worked mostly in policy areas relating to "women's issues" such as welfare, family, and health have become increasingly influential as corporate lobbyists, specializing in what used to be considered "masculine" policy, such as taxes and defense. Benoit finds that this new crop of female lobbyists mobilize both masculinity and femininity in ways that create and maintain trusting, open, and strong relations with those in government, and at the same time help corporations to save and earn billions of dollars.While the media focuses on the dubious behaviors of men at the top of business and government, this book shows that female corporate lobbyists are indeed one of the best kept secrets in Washington.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-4153-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Chapter 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-17)

    Power is one of the most complex and difficult concepts in the social and political sciences, partly because there are so many competing definitions, and partly because many key decisions are made behind closed doors. At the same time, the analysis of power is critical to our understanding of how the world works. To examine the processes and structures of power in the United States and around the world is to develop a better understanding of the forces that shape our organizations, institutions, relationships, and, as a consequence, our own opportunities and experiences. Any hope for social change rests on...

  5. Chapter 2 From Private to Public Interests: Women’s Entrance into Corporate Lobbying
    (pp. 18-46)

    Women are relatively new to corporate lobbying but nevertheless have long been active agents in shaping political and economic structures and processes in the United States. Historically, as women became engaged in formal education, travel, and work outside the home, they began to develop an identity as women, and as such began to exert a unified voice in the public realm. Although women did not acquire the right to vote and hold office until 1920, they were actively involved in struggles for moral reform and protective labor legislation throughout the 1800s and early 1900s. By the latter decades of the...

  6. Chapter 3 The Problem with No Name? Women’s Interests, Corporate Power, and Public Policy
    (pp. 47-75)

    Although still a relatively small proportion of all women lobbyists, there has been a recent increase in the number of those who specialize in policy areas traditionally thought of as “male,” most notably tax and social security policy. At the same time, tax policy and social security policy increasingly advantages business to the detriment of other groups, most notably women. This chapter examines the contradictory positions of women corporate lobbyists who increasingly work in the interest of corporations through the passage of legislation that is contrary to the interests of women.

    Women who specialize in tax and social security policy...

  7. Chapter 4 Warm Springs and Hot Topics at the Tax Alliance Retreat: Doing Gender and Doing Business
    (pp. 76-101)

    Imagine you are enveloped in a warm wrap of linens that have been steamed in a fragrant blend of natural herbs. You then receive a hydroptimale treatment to prevent dehydrated skin. Next you receive a special treatment to increase the consumption of oxygen by the skin, resulting in an even, fresh, and luminous complexion. You take a leisurely soak in a luxurious mineral bath, warm water cascading around you, leaving you in a state of total relaxation and enchantment. Your skin is rubbed with raspberry oil, wrapped, and allowed to re-moisturize itself. You are member of the Tax Alliance, a...

  8. Chapter 5 The Costs and Benefits of Family Ties
    (pp. 102-125)

    Although researchers have examined the relationship between gender and work networks (Aldrich and Reese 1994; Brass 1985, 1992), few have included the effects of family relations on work networks in their analyses. The social science literature that does exist in this area largely suggests that family ties limit women’s opportunities to form work networks. For example, researchers have argued that professional women who are wives and mothers may “pay the price of being defined as uncommitted” to their careers (Saltzman Chafetz 1997; see also Lorber 1989). With regard to ties with those in higher-level positions, Moore (1987) finds that married...

  9. Chapter 6 Women, Corporate Lobbying, and Power
    (pp. 126-142)

    Women’s presence on the lobbying scene in Washington and elsewhere in the country is undeniable. The “bastions of cigar-smoking dinosaurs,” as one corporate lobbyist put it, are nearly extinct. It is no longer unusual to see women lobbyists networking with legislators and staffers and arguing their cases in the halls of Congress, at restaurants, and on the golf course. Women have fast become part of the growing interest group community in Washington (Donato 1990) and are making significant headway in all areas of lobbying. Over the last few decades, the number of corporations with Washington offices has skyrocketed and, along...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 143-146)
  11. References
    (pp. 147-156)
  12. Index
    (pp. 157-166)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 167-168)