How the Gender of U.S. Senators Influences People's Understanding and Engagement in Politics

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11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Electoral accountability depends on citizens making informed choices at the voting booth. We explore whether the gender of U.S. Senators influences what people know about their senators. We also examine whether people's level of information about men and women senators affects their participation in politics. We develop theoretical expectations to explain why a senator's gender may influence citizens' knowledge and behaviors. We rely on the 2006 Congressional Cooperative Election Survey and examine the population of U.S. Senators serving in the 109th Congress. We find that women know far less about their senators than men. Second, the gap in political knowledge closes sharply when women senators represent women citizens. Third, perhaps most importantly, women citizens are more active in politics when represented by women senators. These findings suggest the confluence of more women senators and additional women voters may produce important changes in the policy outcomes of the U.S. Congress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Politics
Volume96
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 25 2014

Fingerprint

politics
gender
citizen
level of information
voting
election
responsibility
participation

Keywords

  • empowerment
  • gender differences
  • political knowledge
  • representation
  • women senators

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this

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