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Speaking for the Underrepresented in the House of Representatives: Voicing Women's Interests in a Partisan Era

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 February 2012

Kathryn Pearson
Affiliation:
University of Minnesota
Logan Dancey
Affiliation:
University of Pittsburgh

Abstract

We ask whether women's descriptive representation in Congress enhances women's substantive representation through speechmaking on the House floor. Much of the research on women's substantive representation has focused on members' votes for and sponsorship of “women's issues” legislation. We depart from this research by systematically analyzing how members' gender and partisan identities affect gendered rhetoric in their floor speeches. In an era marked by significant increases in the number of congresswomen and partisan polarization, understanding the interactive effect of gender and partisanship on women's representation is particularly important. In an analysis of more than 30,000 speeches from 1993 to 2008, we find that when members speak about issues of their choosing during one-minute speeches, and during specific legislative debates over the most important policies considered on the House floor, congresswomen in both parties are significantly more likely than men to discuss women, enhancing women's representation.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Women and Politics Research Section of the American Political Science Association 2011

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