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Gender Differences in Legislator Responsiveness

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 November 2019

Abstract

A growing body of research shows that women legislators outperform their male counterparts in the legislative arena, but scholars have yet to examine whether this pattern emerges in non-policy aspects of representation. We conducted an audit study of 6,000 U.S. state legislators to analyze whether women outperform or underperform men on constituency service in light of the extra effort they spend on policy. We find that women are more likely to respond to constituent requests than men, even after accounting for their heightened level of policy activity. Female legislators are the most responsive in conservative districts, where women may see the barriers to their election as especially high. We then demonstrate that our findings are not a function of staff responsiveness, legislator ideology, or responsiveness to female constituents or gender issues. The results provide additional evidence that women perform better than their male counterparts across a range of representational activities.

Type
Special Section: The Glass Ceiling/Gender
Copyright
© American Political Science Association 2019

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Footnotes

A list of permanent links to Supplemental Materials provided by the authors precedes the References section.

*

Data replication sets are available in Harvard Dataverse at: https://doi.org/10.7910/DVN/8WLEMA

The authors received valuable feedback from seminar participants at the University of Notre Dame, Stanford University, Syracuse University, and the Political Institutions and Elite Behavior mini-conference at the Midwest Political Science Association meeting. They thank Amy Alexander, Sara Angevine, David Broockman, Dan Butler, Matt Cleary, Charles Crabtree, Shana Gadarian, Dimitar Gueorguiev, Jeff Harden, Mirya Holman, Dan McDowell, Michael Miller, Craig Volden, and Christina Wolbrecht for helpful comments and suggestions.

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