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Study: Women Generally Better Legislators Than Men

By    |   Tuesday, 14 Oct 2014 10:40 PM

Women are, on average, more effective lawmakers than men – especially when they are in the party out of power, a new study finds.

"When we looked at minority-party women, they tended to continue to push their policy goals, tended to continue to reach across party lines to build coalitions, and were more likely to make laws based on that," said Craig Volden, professor of public policy and politics at the University of Virginia.

"Men, on average, tended to move more to an obstructionist position when in the minority party," he said.

Volden and Alan Wiseman, an associate professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University, graded House lawmakers based on the number of bills they introduced, how significant the legislation was, and how far each bill made it in the legislative process. The pair tracked nearly 140,000 public bills from 1973 to 2008.

"As expected, it helps to be a member of the majority party, more senior, or to hold a committee chair," Volden said. "Yet, controlling for all of these other factors, we also found that, on average, women are more effective lawmakers than are men."

Volden writes that even in a gridlocked Congress, female legislators "are more likely than their male counterparts to compromise, build consensus, and work across the aisle to achieve policy goals."

"As . . . Sen. Rob Portman [R – Ohio] said recently, 'I don't want to generalize, because this isn't true of all [women], but they tend to be interested in finding common ground,'" Volden writes.

There's a catch, however, Volden notes.

The ability to compromise ""does not serve all women equally well in all institutional settings," Volden writes, adding: "The willingness to compromise helps women become more effective lawmakers when they are in the minority party, but is of limited value in a polarized majority party."

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Women are, on average, more effective lawmakers than men – especially when they are in the party out of power, a new study finds.
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Tuesday, 14 Oct 2014 10:40 PM
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