Are women more effective lawmakers than men?
That’s the preliminary conclusion of a study conducted by researchers at Stanford University and the University of Chicago, who say that on average, women in Congress introduce more bills, attract more co-sponsors and bring home more money for their districts than their male counterparts do.
The study, which examined the performance of House members between 1984 and 2004, found that women delivered roughly 9 percent more discretionary spending for their districts than men.
For instance, during Rep. Judy Biggert’s first two-year term, Illinois’s 13th District received $382 million in federal funds, $70 million more than it received during the final term of her predecessor, Rep. Harris Fawell.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren delivered around $859 million to her district, compared with $541 million brought in by her predecessor, Rep. Don Edwards, during his final term, the researchers said.
And during then-Rep. Connie Morella’s first term, Maryland’s 8th District received $780 million, $183 million more than predecessor Rep. Michael Barnes brought in during his final term, they said.
While there are obviously variables beyond gender — seniority, party affiliation, majority/minority status and the differing priorities of a freshman and a veteran lawmaker — the researchers say they’ve accounted for those in making their male-to-female comparisons.
“You could easily make the argument that a politician who is on his way out, or someone who is sitting on a really powerful committee, is in a different position than someone just coming into office,” said Stanford researcher Sarah Anzia. “Not every example will cover every alternative explanation, but we control for all of those factors in the study.”
The researchers also found that women introduced more legislation than men who served in their same districts, often hitting the ground running in their first terms.
“We find that, on average, women sponsor about three bills more per Congress per term than their male counterparts,” said Anzia. “They co-sponsor more bills than other members, and they also obtain more co-sponsors for their own bills.”
Since 1789, women have constituted just 2 percent of the total congressional population. The ratio of female to male representatives has increased in recent years, but the pace is still fairly glacial: Nearly 17 percent of House members are women today, compared with about 3 percent in 1979.
Researchers say the small number of female members may have something to do with their effectiveness. Women who run and win are likely the most politically ambitious and talented of their pool, having potentially overcome hurdles including voter bias and self-doubt about their ability to win. Female candidates also tend to attract more challengers. Politically eligible women tend to doubt their ability to get elected and raise money more than men do, multiple studies have indicated. Large majorities of both men and women in candidate feeder pools, such as law offices and political organizations, believe there is a bias against women in elections, according to Lawless and Fox studies in 2005 and 2004.
Once women get to Capitol Hill, those hurdles may drive them to perform better, on average, than male counterparts who have faced a less contentious road.
“Research shows that even though women have similar success rates in primaries and elections as men, they are likely to face more challengers,” said Hartwick College political science department chairwoman Laurel Elder. “The results might be the same, but they might have to work harder to get those same results.”
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I probably could have guessed this without doing all that research but it's good to have some facts to back up your shit right?
Right on ladies of the law! Keep it going!