Accepted for publication at Politics, Groups, and Identities
A longstanding assumption in the literature on women’s representation is that, once elected, descriptive representatives will legislate on behalf of women’s substantive interests. While the literature finds support for the notion that women representatives prioritize women’s substantive interests in their legislative behavior, considerable variation exists across women within countries. In this paper, I explore one factor that explains why some women focus more on women’s rights than others: sense of political security and establishment within the legislature. I argue that women legislators with more security within the legislature, measured as seniority, may be more likely to introduce women’s rights policies when compared with more junior women. Seniority provides legislators freedom to deviate from the party platform without fear of backlash from party leadership. I test this using data on bills initiated by legislators in Argentina (1983–2013). I find that more senior women introduce more women’s rights legislation.
with James Adams, David Bracken, Noam Gidron, Will Horne, and Diana O'Brien
Accepted for publication at the American Political Science Review; selected by APSA's Public Scholarship Program
Concern over partisan resentment and hostility has increased across Western democracies. Despite growing attention to affective polarization, existing research fails to ask whether who serves in office affects mass-level inter-party hostility. Drawing on scholarship on women’s behavior as elected representatives and citizens’ beliefs about women politicians, we posit the women MPs affective bonus hypothesis: all else equal, partisans display warmer affect towards out-parties with higher proportions of women MPs. We evaluate this claim with an original dataset on women’s presence in 125 political parties in 20 Western democracies from 1996-2017, combined with survey data on partisans’ affective ratings of political opponents. We show that women’s representation is associated with lower levels of partisan hostility, and that both men and women partisans react positively to out-party women MPs. Increasing women’s parliamentary presence could thus mitigate cross-party hostility.
Published at Legislative Studies Quarterly
Are women as effective as men at passing legislation? What are the institutional pathways through which gender affects bill approval? I argue that gender does not have a direct effect on a legislator’s ability to gain legislative approval. Instead, women are marginalized in their access to influential institutional positions – committee leadership positions, influential committee assignment, and bill content -- which may have consequences for bill approval. I examine these relationships using causal mediation analysis on bill data from Argentina from 1983 through 2007. I do not find a direct effect of gender on bill approval. Instead, women are negatively affected by their lack of access to committee leadership positions. While women do not experience legislative consequences directly, by virtue of being women, they do face indirect consequences through the positions they receive. This paper makes important methodological and substantive contributions to understanding relationships between gender and legislative outcomes.
Women’s Presence as Party Leaders, MPs, and Supporters Shifts Parties’ Images Leftward: Observational and Experimental Evidence
with James Adams, David Bracken, Noam Gidron, Will Horne, Seonghui Lee, Diana O'Brien, Philip Santoso, and Randolph Stevenson
We analyze whether citizens use the presence of women within a party at various levels (as party leaders, as MPs, and as rank-and-file party supporters) to infer the party’s ideological position. We present arguments and observational analyses of election survey data across 20 western publics that citizens perceive parties with a greater women’s presence – at any level – as more left-wing, and that the cumulative perceptual relationships across different party levels are substantial. We next report experimental results across four western publics to demonstrate that these perceptual effects derive at least partly from citizens’ gender-based inferences. Our findings have implications for parties’ election strategies and mass-elite linkages.
Women's Legislative Representation and Multilateral Treaty Ratification
with Jessica Edry and Nicholas Coulombe
Do recent increases in women's representation in legislatures around the world have implications for international relations? We argue that greater representation of women in legislatures increases the likelihood of multilateral treaty ratification. Drawing on findings of gender gaps in domestic policy preferences, we argue that women tend to be more supportive of institutional efforts to deal with collective issues. From this, we contend that, in countries where ratification depends upon legislative approval, legislatures are more likely to ratify multilateral treaties as the share of seats occupied by women increases. While we do not find any evidence to support the claim that women are more supportive of multilateral treaty efforts in general, we do find that higher levels of women's representation is associated with the ratification of human rights treaties when compared to other treaty issue areas. Using an original data set of 208 multilateral treaties, we find that countries become more likely to ratify human rights treaties as their levels of women's legislative representation increase. This study highlights how the question of who is in power matters for global developments.
All drafts available upon request.