How the gender of U.S. senators influences people's understanding and engagement in politics

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations

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)
Pages (from-to)1017-1031
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Politics
Volume76
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 21 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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