Are Women More Likely to Vote for Women's Issue Bills Than Their Male Colleagues?
Legislative Studies Quarterly XXIII:435-48
Many hypothesize that the election of more women to the U.S. Congress is
more than simply an issue of equity, but will make a substantive policy difference. I test
this hypothesis by analyzing the voting records of all representatives in the 103d
Congress on a set of women's issues. It is my premise that women will not necessarily
exhibit a more liberal ideology than their male counterparts on all issues; however, the
more directly an issue affects women, the more likely it is that women will vote together
across party lines.
The results of regression analysis on the composite score of women's issue votes indicate that gender exerts a significant and independent effect on voting for women's issues in the face of controls for other major influences on congressional voting. These influences include constituency factors, party, personal characteristics, and ideology. Interaction terms for gender by party indicate that much of the impact of gender is due to the influence of Republican women. Logit analysis of the individual votes demonstrates that the gender of the representative was most significant on votes that dealt with abortion and women's health. The influence of gender was overwhelmed by other factors such as party, ideology, and constituency concerns on votes that were less directly related to women, such as education.
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