Rachel Pierce

  • Fellowship year:2011-2012
  • University: University of Virginia
  • Dissertation Topic/Category: Gender and Women'¬ís History
  • Dissertation Title:
  • Partway through her first term in Congress, Bella Abzug announced that “[t]his is the year of women’s lib,” proudly detailing the thirty-five women’s legislative bills introduced in the opening weeks of the 92nd Congress. And indeed, the 1970s represent the most productive period of feminist legislation in United States history. Historians have yet to fully explain this monumental legislative success. Ironically, scholars have overlooked the most local source of support for feminist legislation: women working on Capitol Hill.
    This dissertation argues that these women played a critical role in the formulation, passage, and implementation of feminist legislation. Women working on Capitol Hill were in a unique position, close to national policy-making processes that could institutionalize women’s rights in wide-ranging ways. In the 1960s and ‘70s, they began to reach out to and work with other women in order to fight against sex discrimination within their workplace, resulting in legislation with national ramifications.