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Pipeline or Pipedream: Gender Balance Legislation’s Effect on Women’s Presence in State Government

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 March 2021

Shannon McQueen*
George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA
Corresponding Author: Shannon McQueen, Political Science Department, George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA Email:


Can legislation encouraging women’s political involvement impact women’s desire to run for elected office? Eleven states have passed legislation to promote equal gender representation on appointed government boards, and many argue this legislation will also develop a pipeline of women candidates to run for elected office. This paper is the first scholarly work to assess if gender balance legislation (GBL) increases the number of women candidates and women legislators within a state. I use a nonparametric generalization of the difference-in-differences estimator and find very little evidence that GBL significantly impacts women’s representation at the state level. Results are consistent across multiple outcome variables and different model specifications, including two-way fixed effects, generalized synthetic control, and synthetic control models. The insignificant impact of GBL speaks to the need to thoroughly investigate which institutional reforms adequately feed the female candidate pipeline.

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© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the American Political Science Association

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