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The Missing Fingerprints: U.S. Women Legislators and International Development Aid

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 September 2022

Katelyn E. Stauffer*
University of South Carolina, Columbia, USA
Yoshiharu Kobayashi
University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
Kelsey M. Martin-Morales
University of South Carolina, Columbia, USA
Riley Lankes
University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Tobias Heinrich
University of South Carolina, Columbia, USA
Catherine R. Goodwin
University of California, Irvine, USA
Corresponding author. Email:


There is optimism that the growing number of women in political office will reorient the focus of international politics toward more social and humanitarian issues. One basis for this optimism is the argument that women legislators hold distinct foreign policy preferences and act on them to affect changes in policy. However, we know little about gender differences in the behavior of individual legislators on these issues. This study investigates the behavior of individual legislators of the United States, one of the most important actors in international politics, in the context of development aid. Analyzing a diverse set of legislative behaviors in the U.S. Congress, we find no evidence that women legislators behave any differently than men with regard to these issues. Beyond its contribution to our understanding of the making and future of American foreign policy, this study contributes to broader debates about women’s representation and foreign policy.

Research Article
© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Women, Gender, and Politics Research Section of the American Political Science Association

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