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Role Models or Partisan Models? The Effect of Prominent Women Officeholders

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 March 2021

Cory Manento*
Affiliation:
Department of Political Science, Trinity College, Hartford, CT, USA
Marie Schenk
Affiliation:
Department of Political Science, Brown University, Providence, RI, USA
*
Corresponding Author: Cory Manento, Department of Political Science, Trinity College, Downes Memorial 300 Summit Street, Hartford, CT 06106, USA. Email: cory.manento@trincoll.edu

Abstract

Women remain underrepresented in electoral politics compared to their share of the population. Using an original dataset spanning 1975–2019, we examine whether the presence of women in prominent political office leads to an increase in the number of women serving in state legislatures. We define prominence in two ways: the total number of women elected to statewide office and the length of a state’s history of electing women. We find that the prominence effect diverges by party. The election of prominent Democratic women leads to an increase in the proportion of Democratic women state legislators, while the election of Republican women leads to a decrease in the proportion of Republican women state legislators. Rather than serving as role models for women of both parties to enter the political pipeline, electing more women to prominent office is contributing to a greater representational gap between the parties in state legislatures.

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

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