• Entry type: Person
  • Entry ID: AWE6054

Pateman, Carole

(1940 – ) Carole Pateman
  • Born 11 December, 1940, Maresfield Sussex United Kingdom
  • Occupation Academic, Political scientist


Professor Carole Pateman is a British-born political scientist and academic who is internationally renowned for her contribution to feminist political theory and democratic theory. Carole taught in Australia from 1972 to 1990, during which time she played a central role in introducing feminist critique to Australian political science. In 1979, she and Marian Sawer co-founded the Women’s Caucus of the Australasian Political Studies Association (APSA) to improve the status of women in the profession of political science and make women visible in the political system.


Carole Pateman was born in Sussex in south-eastern England to Beatrice Kate (nee Horscroft) and Ronald Bennett, who had both left school at 14, but encouraged their daughter’s education. At the age of 11 Pateman passed the Eleven Plus examination required for entry to the academically-selective Lewes County Grammar School for Girls, which she left at 16. She worked in clerical positions for several years before attending Ruskin College, an independent adult educational institution in Oxford for working class students. From Ruskin, Pateman won entry to Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University, where she studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) for a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) (1967) and then a Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) (1971).

In 1972 Pateman moved to Australia where she was Lecturer (1972-75), then Senior Lecturer (1976-79), in the Department of Government at the University of Sydney, and Visiting Fellow, Department of Political Science, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University (1975). From 1980 to 1989 she taught at the University of Sydney as a Reader in Government, in addition to taking a series of visiting positions at Stanford University, Princeton University, and the Swedish Council for Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

When Pateman arrived in Australia she had an established international reputation in political science through the publication of her book Participation and Democratic Theory (1970) based on her DPhil thesis. Since published in four languages in addition to English editions, the book promotes a participatory vision of democracy and criticises the theory of democratic elitism. Pateman argued that elitist theories by the likes of Schumpeter, Berelson, Sartori, Dahl and Eckstein are based on an inadequate understanding of the early writings of democratic theory and that much sociological evidence has been ignored. The book is considered a major contribution to political theory, along with The Problem of Political Obligation: A Critical Analysis of Liberal Theory (1979, 1985), and The Disorder of Women: Democracy, Feminism, and Political Theory (1989). Her 1988 book, The Sexual Contract, which challenged the liberal idea that the power of the state does not contradict the freedom of individuals because it is founded upon their consent, has been credited with bringing feminism into mainstream political theory. APSA awarded Pateman the Benjamin Lippincott Award for the book in 2005, and it has since been translated into 10 languages. In total, Pateman has written, co-written and edited 17 books.

In 1979, Pateman co-founded the Women’s Caucus of the Australasian Political Studies Association (APSA) with Marian Sawer. In 1980, she was elected to the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and in 1981 she delivered a landmark presidential address to the Australasian Political Studies Association about the failure of the discipline to construct the status of women as a political problem.
Pateman continued to publish works challenging the masculinist tradition of political theory and despite being the most cited social science academic in Australia by a wide margin, her applications for political science chairs at Australian universities were unsuccessful and in 1990 she moved to the United States of America to take up the role of Professor of Political Science at University of California, Los Angeles. In 1993, in recognition of her major contribution to political science, Pateman was elevated to the rank of Distinguished Professor. From 1993 to 2000 she was Adjunct Professor at the Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia; and from 2006 to 2008 Research Professor at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom.

Professor Pateman has held fellowships at several esteemed research institutes, including Stanford, Princeton, and Uppsala. She was president of both the Australasian Political Studies Association and the International Political Science Association. In 1991, she was elected President of the American Political Science Association, the first woman to occupy that position. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2007 was named a Fellow of the British Academy. Her scholarship has been recognized with many prestigious honours and awards, including the Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science (2012).

In honour of Carole’s contribution to political science in Australia, APSA presents the biennial Carole Pateman Gender and Politics prize to an APSA member who publishes the best book on gender and politics.

Following many years living in the United States, Professor Pateman moved back to the United Kingdom in 2017 where she continues to research and write.

This entry was sponsored by a generous donation from the late Dr Thelma Hunter.



  • 2015 - 2015
  • 2013 - 2013
  • 2012 - 2012
  • 2010 - 1970
  • 2007 - 1970
  • 2006 - 2006
  • 2005 - 2005
  • 2004 - 2004
  • 1998 - 1998
  • 1996 - 1970
  • 1993 - 1994
  • 1988 - 1989
  • 1980 - 1970
  • 1986 - 1987
  • 1984 - 1985

Published resources

Archival resources

  • National Library of Australia, Manuscript Collection
    • Records of the Australasian Political Studies Association, 1956-1996 [manuscript]
  • Australian National University Archives
    • Pateman, C
    • Pateman, C

Digital resources

Related entries

  • Related Women
    • Hunter, Thelma Anna Carmela (1923 - 2016)
    • Reid, Elizabeth Anne (1942 - )
    • Summers, Anne Fairhurst (1945 - )
    • Burgmann, Meredith Anne (1947 - )
    • Sawer, Marian (1946 - )
    • Burgmann, Verity (1952 - )
    • Simms, Marian Jane
  • Founder
    • Australian Political Studies Association Women's Caucus (2007 - )