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Women in Local Government: What We Know and Where We Go from Here

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Abstract

Women are underrepresented in most elected and appointed positions in local government in the United States. This essay details what we know about women’s representation in cities and counties, with a discussion of the factors associated with women’s higher or lower levels of representation. The effects of women’s lack of parity are then discussed including policy attitudes, the policy process, and policy outcomes. In sum, this essay organizes knowledge on women in local government, identifies gaps in what we know, and promotes future investigations to expand our knowledge of gender politics, local politics and governance, and public policy.

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... Ferraz et al. (2018) and Tavares & Da Cruz (2017) observed that female participation in LGs benefits financial transparency, while Rodríguez et al. (2018) concluded that, due to contrasting interpretations of social reality, women tend to adopt a different leadership style from that of men. In addition, the presence of female councillors in a LG may affect its budget decisions (Holman, 2017) and that of a female mayor can have a direct impact on the financial sustainability of public services (Rodríguez et al., 2018). Similarly, Balaguer-Coll & Ivanova-Toneva (2019) found that the gender of the mayor (woman) has positive effects on debt level, and Hernández et al. (2018) concluded that when the city mayor is female, interest rates and borrowing levels are reduced. ...
... In this context, studies have addressed the presence of wo-men in LGs, with respect to their influence on budget decisions (Holman, 2017), financial transparency (Ferraz et al., 2018), financial sustainability of public services (Rodríguez et al., 2018), interest rates and borrowing (Hernández et al., 2018), financial risk aversion (Suzuki & Avellaneda, 2018) and taxation-spending policies (Cabaleiro & Buch, 2018). Nevertheless, research into the specific influence of female participation in government on these questions remains insufficient and none of the above studies focus specifically on the relationship between gender and LG default. ...
... Furthermore, research into the political representation of women has shown that female mayors defend women's interests more strongly than their male counterparts (Höhmann, 2020). Specifically, women in public office are more likely to prioritise issues related to the female electorate (Atchison & Down, 2019;Holman, 2014Holman, , 2017Schumaker & Burns, 1988), and advocate policies favourable to women's interests (Meier & Funk, 2017). In view of these considerations, we hypothesise that the proportion of women voters among the electorate will influence the management decisions of female mayors. ...
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This study analyse the impact of female on the management of financial risk faced by local governments (LGs), through political and population variables. We conduct a statistical analysis of panel data to examine the financial behaviour of 133 large LGs in Spain during the period 2009-2017. The results reveal that LGs with a female mayor are at lower risk of default. Likewise, we found that the number of female members of the city council and the degree of political fragmentation are inversely associated with the risk of default. This risk is also alleviated by population variables, such as a larger female population, a larger rate of unemployment among women and a smaller population of women aged over 65 years. Our findings have important implications and usefulness for a wide range of stakeholders, including policymakers, managers, practitioners and fiscal authorities concerned by solvency, financial risks and possible default in LGs. En este estudio se analiza el impacto de la mujer en la gestión del riesgo financiero de los gobiernos locales (LGs), a través de variables políticas y demográficas. Se realiza un análisis estadístico de datos de panel para examinar el comportamiento financiero de 133 grandes LG en España durante el período 2009-2017. Los resultados revelan que los LGs con un alcalde mujer tienen un menor riesgo de impago. Asimismo, descubrimos que el número de mujeres miembros del ayuntamiento y el grado de fragmentación política están inversamente asociados al riesgo de impago. Este riesgo también se ve aliviado por variables poblacionales, como una mayor población femenina, una mayor tasa de desempleo entre las mujeres y una menor población de mujeres mayores de 65 años. Nuestras conclusiones tienen importantes repercusiones y utilidad para una amplia gama de interesados, incluidos los encargados de formular políticas, administradores, profesionales y autoridades fiscales preocupados por la solvencia, los riesgos financieros y el posible incumplimiento en los LGs.
... For instance, women public managers provide more emotional labor in organizations (Guy and Newman, 2004;Meier et al., 2006a, b), have different professional motivations (DeHart-Davis et al., 2006), are more democratic (Bass and Avolio, 1993) and are "less hierarchical and more participatory, interactional, flexible, consociational, and multifaceted" (Meier et al., 2006a, b, p. 25). In addition, women city managers exhibit more communal behaviors than their men colleagues, including being more likely to incorporate citizen input (Fox and Schuhmann, 1999), encourage citizen involvement in decision-making (Fox and Schuhmann, 1999;Holman, 2017) and use inclusive policy-making approaches (Kathlene, 1994;Tilly and Gurin, 1992). Women elected officials are also less likely to act agentically, initiating less legislation and serving on fewer committees than men colleagues (Spirou, 2017). ...
... Past metaanalyses suggest women may generally be better listeners as they are less likely to interrupt in intrusive ways (Anderson and Leaper, 1998) and are more likely to demonstrate active understanding through the use of reflective comments and probing questions (Leaper and Ayres, 2007). Specific conceptualizations of listening discussed are also more likely to be associated with women, including being more open-minded (Prentice and Carranza, 2002), incorporating citizen input (Fox and Schuhmann, 1999) and encouraging constituents' active involvement (Fox and Schuhmann, 1999;Holman, 2017). ...
... Local elected officials in our sample, regardless of their gender, emphasized behaviors that are stereotypically viewed as feminine or are gender-ambiguous. Yet, in actual practice, there is ample evidence men and women often lead in ways that are more consistent with gender stereotypes (Bass and Avolio, 1993;Fox and Schuhmann, 1999;Guy and Newman, 2004;Holman, 2017;Kathlene, 1994;Meier et al., 2006a, b;Tilly and Gurin, 1992). Do local elected officials really believe it is more advantageous for leaders to exhibit stereotypically feminine or gender-ambiguous behaviors compared to masculine ones, or are our results merely an artifact of social desirability bias? ...
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Purpose This study advances understanding of the behaviors local elected officials believe effective leaders display, whether these behaviors tend to be associated with a particular gender and if beliefs vary by gender. Design/methodology/approach Using data from focus groups with local elected officials in a US state, participants were asked to identify behaviors of effective elected officials. Focus group demographic data allowed for responses to be matched by the participants' gender. Findings Men and women local elected officials differ little in their beliefs about what behaviors make leaders effective. The most commonly mentioned behaviors are more likely to be associated with women or are gender-ambiguous. Originality/value This study contributes to the leadership literature by examining local elected officials' beliefs about effective leadership behaviors and if these beliefs differ by a respondent's gender.
... Women's higher rejection sensitivity suggests that more women may select out of competing again after losing when compared to men. Previous research has already demonstrated that the first prediction-women's lower rates of emergence as candidates-holds in observational data, including in local elections (25). Unanswered, however, is whether women's behavior differs from men's at the point of reentry-whether, in the wake of loss, women are less willing to throw their hats into the ring again. ...
... To answer this question, we use data on elections for multiple levels of government in the United States. In particular, we use data on local and state elections-settings that are important in their own right, as these levels of government are where the vast majority of candidates in the United States run for office (26) and where most women politicians serve in office (25). State and local governments are also where most potential federal candidates are likely to emerge for the first time (11,27). ...
Article
Are women more likely to quit politics after losing their first race than men? Women’s first-time candidacies skyrocketed in the wake of the 2016 presidential election. Yet we have little sense of the long-term impact of this surge in women candidates on women’s representation writ large: Inexperienced candidates are more likely to lose, and women might be especially discouraged by a loss. This might make the benefits of such a surge in candidacies fleeting. Using a regression discontinuity design and data that feature 212,805 candidates across 22,473 jurisdictions between 1950 and 2018, we find that women who narrowly lose these elections are no more likely to quit politics than men who narrowly lose. Drawing on scholarship on women’s lower political ambition, we interpret these findings to mean that women’s decision-making differs from men’s at the point of entry into politics—not at the point of reentry.
... Most studies have demonstrated that proportional representation combined with larger electoral districts and closed/rigid lists tend to contribute to increasing the number of female councillors (Matland and Studlar 1996) 1 and the rising district magnitude decreases three barriers women have to overcome before getting elected: women's willingness to run, their acceptance by the party selectorate, and their voter approval (Matland and Brown 1992;Norris 1985). On the other hand, further studies demonstrate that the effect of electoral system on women's representation in local elections is mixed at best (Magin 2013;Smith, Reingold, and Owens 2012;Trounstine and Valdini 2008), like the effect of district magnitude (Kjaer and Elklit 2014). 2 This leads to high importance of the nomination process-together with gender bias or gender stereotypes (see below), which may translate into bias toward women in political offices (Holman 2017). Because as local organizations, including political parties, play a key role in the recruitment of women to run for local offices, the lack of diversity among local party leaders shapes the supply of women running for office in a process where largely male party leaders recruit candidates from networks of people they know-who also mostly consist of men (Crowder-Meyer 2013). ...
Article
The main objective of this paper is to analyse where women run for and win seats in local councils of Czech towns between 1998 and 2018. Our results are to some extent contradictory to those from Western Europe. More importantly, this study demonstrates that strategic context impacts on women’s emergence and success in local elections in a different way. First, we do not confirm that larger towns are more promising for women’s representation. While more fragmented party systems in larger cities contribute to making women’s candidacy more common, a large pool of female candidates does not result in their higher presence in local councils. Second, we identify openness of local environment to women, in terms of women’s previous representation, as a strong determinant of female representation in Czech towns, both in terms of candidacy and success.
... it is, therefore, apparent that current knowledge of the subject matter is strongly determined by the quality and extent of available evidence. Holman (2017), who reviews the state of the art on women's representation in local politics, points not only to the above-mentioned problems but also to the fact that for the time being, interdisciplinary approaches, for example, have been ignored, whereas this absence has an equally negative effect on the state of the art. ...
... A better explanation for this finding may be related to the receptivity of female leaders to the voices of local activists compared to their male counterparts. According to past research, female leaders tend to be more inclusive (Fox and Schuhmann 1999;Holman 2017) and more open to citizen involvement (Kathlene 1994;Tilly and Gurin 1992). As a result, local environmental groups may play a greater role in the policymaking process in jurisdictions led by women, and grassroots reform efforts may have a higher likelihood of success in these communities. ...
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Most research examining factors associated with local government adoption of sustainability practices focuses on the impact of community characteristics. Little is known about whether adoption is also related to the characteristics of the leaders in these jurisdictions. To address this gap in the literature, this exploratory study uses data from a national survey of U.S. local governments (n = 1,672) to examine the potential correlation between adoption of certain sustainability practices and the gender of a jurisdiction's highest elected official. Our regression models find that jurisdictions led by women were more likely to have adopted redistributive programmes and practices encouraging community-based energy conservation. But, there is no correlation between a local government's adoption of measures promoting government energy conservation and its leader's gender. Future research should explore whether female leaders’ greater openness to citizen involvement in the policymaking process and women's socialisation to focus on communal rather than individual interests help account for our findings.
... Women leaders who are able to engage this paradox of the dual demands are more likely to gain fullfledged entry and involvement in strategic decision-making (Zheng, Kark and Meister 2018). Holman's (2017) research on women's representation in the US local governments, indicated that institutional, demographic and local politics factors shape women's participation in top echelons. Thus, women are more likely to be elected in district-related positions than to the mayor's office or city councils, in cities where women had higher incomes and education levels and locations where they could gain local support of the parties. ...
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This research aims to unpack the politics of gender equality and inclusion in municipal councils, focusing on the patterns of women’s political practices; the institutional impact of the national and local cultures on the organizational cultures. It is based on action-research and mixed-method format. Eight municipal councils in small and medium size Jewish, Arab and Jewish-Arab towns in the Northern district participate in the study. Initial findings suggest that women's meaningful involvement in the municipal strategic decision-making is partial. There is a significant gap between the declared strive for gender equality and inclusion and women's actual influence in decision-making. This gap looms particularly large in the Arab towns. The mechanisms of exclusion and potential avenues of counteracting them are discussed.
... Studies suggest that the average quality of women congressional candidates is higher than that of menand that failing to account for this masks real differences in men's and women's vote shares (see, for example, Fulton 2012). We therefore take advantage of California's election rules that allow candidates to provide a ballot designation indicating their current elective office or occupation; 5 Crowder-Meyer et al. (2015) and Crowder-Meyer and Smith (2015) also examine the share of all candidates who are women but do not compare the success of men relative to women candidates in local elections, so we still know little about how women fare compared to men in US local governments (Holman 2017). 6 California is overall a liberal, Democratic state, but there are also conservative and Republican areas, especially in the interior and central/south coast (outside of Los Angeles). ...
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Research shows that voters often use gender stereotypes to evaluate candidates, which should help women in some electoral contexts and hurt them in others. Yet, most research examines a single context at a time—usually US national elections, where partisanship is strong—and employs surveys and experiments, raising concerns that citizens’ responses may not reflect how they actually vote. By analyzing returns from thousands of nonpartisan local elections, we test whether patterns of women's win rates relative to men's match expectations for how the electoral effects of gender stereotyping should vary by context. We find women have greater advantages over men in city council than mayoral races, still greater advantages in school board races, and decreasing advantages in more conservative constituencies. Thus, women fare better in stereotype-congruent contexts and worse in incongruent contexts. These effects are most pronounced during on-cycle elections, when voters tend to know less about local candidates.
... Finally, there is a growing literature that accentuates the impact of gender on organizations by noting different personal attitudes, styles, and characteristics between male and female leaders (Jacobson, Palus, and Bowling 2009;Mastracci, Newman, and Guy 2006). These differences are reflected in organizational priorities (Prouteau and Tabariés 2010;Wilkins 2006), decisions (Holman 2017;Meier and Funk 2017), and behaviours (Benharda, Brett, and Lempereur 2013;Riccucci, Van Ryzin, and Li 2016). ...
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Collaborative relations between international and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have often been analysed in terms of their nature and impacts. This study explores several local organizational characteristics that may explain the existence of such collaboration in the first place. Drawing upon a set of organizational theories and original data from a recent survey of 223 local NGOs in Lebanon, the study offers novel empirical evidence that international NGOs may reach and empower a subset of local NGOs better than others, which could exert distributional and undesirable effects on local NGO ecosystems.
... Therefore, before looking into potential explanations at the national level, variables where the composition of the municipalities varies should be examined to rule out mere compositional explanations. Several studies have identified the variables affecting the representation of women across municipalities within the same country (Bullock and MacManus 1991;Crowder-Meyer et al. 2015;Holman 2017;Kjaer and Matland 2014). We will especially learn from three studies -one on Scandinavia and two on the US -which have each analysed several different municipal variables. ...
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The article explores why women are better represented in municipal councils in Norway than in Denmark. This comparative case study offers a most similar systems design, as these two countries are similar on most relevant institutional variables, such as local government systems, electoral systems, party systems and societal gender equality, but they deviate on the dependent variable of women’s representation. Two unique comparative data sets are analysed: representative voter surveys and register data on all candidates (from the 2019 Norwegian and 2017 Danish municipal elections). The study focuses on demand-side explanations and concludes that institutional explanations do not appear relevant. Instead, the parties’ candidate selection matters: Norwegian parties are more concerned with gender balance than their Danish counterparts. Finally, the article discusses why this is the case and asks whether gender equality plays a more prominent role on the societal agenda in Norway than in Denmark.
... Gender equity policy at the local level is a relatively new development (Gains and Lowndes 2018;Van Donk 2000), as most scholarship at the local level targets gender differences in leadership (Bishu and Alkadry 2017;Dula et al. 2021) and representation (Holman 2017;Wasserman 2018). Municipalities across the U.S. often take overwhelmingly progressive or restrictive approaches to gender equity issues including women's advancement in the Cravens 2015), or SOGIE restrictions such as "bathroom bills'' (Murib 2020;Platt and Milam 2018;Wuest 2019). ...
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This research explores the priorities of the gender equity commission in New York City over forty-five years. Archival commission data was organized thematically to understand the history of gender equity and suggest future possibilities for gender equity beyond New York City. In our historical analysis, we see an expansion of the definition of gender and an adoption of an intersectional approach to gender. We identify four historical gender priorities: sexual harassment and violence, pay equity and economic advancement, health and safety, and gender recognition and celebration. To address systemic issues of gender inequity, we recommend local level administrators embed an intersectional approach in their policies and programming and move away from the commission model to one of a permanent office or agency. These recommendations will better equip municipalities with the resources to increase gender equity, particularly during COVID-19 recovery.
... Un caso destacado que surge del análisis de regresión es la provincia de San Luis, donde una proporción muy grande de mujeres son designadas en el gabinete. Este gran número de funcionarias en el gabinete resulta sorprendente frente a la expectativa de que sería más probable que ellas accedan a puestos de mayor responsabilidad en contextos donde predominen valores menos tradicionalistas y más modernos respecto del rol de las mujeres en la sociedad y la vida pública (Holman 2018). Por el contrario, estos resultados sugieren que las mujeres serían más probablemente designadas en puestos ejecutivos cuando la influencia de las dinastías familiares y la vigencia de reglas nepotistas en la política sea mayor. ...
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Evaluación dE la prEsEncia dE mujErEs En gabinEtEs subnacionalEs dE argEntina (1992-2016) RESUMEN ¿Cuáles son los factores que explican la inclusión de las mujeres en puestos políticos subnacionales? La literatura convencional ha examinado las designaciones de mu-jeres en gabinetes nacionales, pero escasa atención se ha prestado a los gobiernos provinciales. Para abordar este vacío, adoptamos el enfoque de oferta y demanda. De este modo, utilizando una base de datos sobre las 24 jurisdicciones subnacio-nales argentinas desde 1992 a 2016, encontramos que los factores del lado de la demanda son más relevantes. Esto se explica, en primer término, ya que la proba-bilidad de que sean nombradas ministras aumenta junto al tamaño del gabinete, cuando hay una gobernadora mujer y, finalmente, si el gobernador pertenece a la coalición peronista. Por otro lado, se ven perjudicadas a medida que aumenta el contingente legislativo del partido del gobernador. Palabras clave: mujeres en gabinetes, representación de mujeres en la política sub-nacional, liderazgo femenino, género y política subnacional, Argentina ABSTRACT What explains women's inclusion in sub-national cabinet positions? While much of the existing literature has examined women's appointments to national ministerial cabinets, scholars have not considered women's access to provincial level cabinets. To address this gap, we adopt the conventional wisdom of a supply and demand approach to evaluate the findings at the subnational level. Using an original time series dataset from 1992-2016 across all 24 subnational jurisdictions, we find that demand factors are more relevant as the probability that women are appointed ministers increases when cabinets are larger, when there is a female governor, and when the governor belongs to a peronist coalition; conversely, a larger legislative contingent of the governor's party decreases the probability of appointing women.
... Likewise, despite considerable scholarly attention to women's low levels of representation in state and federal offices in the United States (e.g., Sanbonmatsu 2006;Carroll and Sanbonmatsu 2013b;Dittmar, Sanbonmatsu, and Carroll 2018), little scholarship has investigated the underrepresentation of women in municipal offices and sought to identify its causes and effectswhether symbolically or on the substantive work of municipal governance (for exceptions, see Smith, Reingold, and Owens 2012;Holman 2015;Crowder-Meyer, Gadarian, and Trounstine 2015). A recent article in State and Local Government Review explicitly calls for more research on women's representation in the many local political bodies around the country (Holman 2017). ...
Article
This article “goes local” to investigate the representation of women on city councils, seeking explanations for the variation in women’s descriptive representation at the municipal level. Using the State of New Jersey (NJ) as a case, it is asked: what explains why women fare electorally better in some NJ municipalities than in others? More specifically, what explains “blanks”—or councils on which women are absent—in women’s representation in local politics? It is demonstrated that council size is a significant predictor of women’s presence or absence, but not percentage representation, on city councils.
... The dominance of men, particularly white men, in every version of the 'public sphere' (Fraser, 1990;Habermas, 1989) in the United States has led marginalised groups to create a variety of subaltern public spheres, or spaces created by individuals with subordinate or marginalised status to circumvent "the silencing effect of domination" (Coronil, 1994, p. 645; see also Bjarnegård, 2013;Weldon, 2004). Women are marginalized in political bodies (Holman, 2017;O'Brien & Piscopo, 2018, 2019. Caucuses often provide this subaltern space for women and representatives of colour (Barnes, 2016;Childs & Kittilson, 2016;Clark, 2019;Johnson & Josefsson, 2016;Mahoney, 2018;Osborn, 2012), serving as an arena where these members cultivate trust and organise. ...
Article
The marginalisation of some groups in legislative bodies promotes the construction of subaltern public spaces, including caucuses. In this paper, we evaluate whether the substantive focus of women’s caucuses in state legislatures matters in shaping women’s collaboration with each other. We first present an evaluation of the types of women’s caucuses in U.S. state legislatures, drawing on qualitative examples and evidence from founding efforts. We then evaluate whether it matters if a caucus is focused on social cohesion among women, sets policy agendas, or is has ad hoc policy focus. We theorise that the focus of the caucus should not matter, as it is the existence of the subaltern space (versus the absence of the space) that confers trust and collaboration among members. Using all co-sponsorship behaviour between women legislators in every U.S. state legislature in 2015, we find little evidence of consistent patterns of a type of caucus mattering across institutional arrangements; instead, all caucuses increase collaborative patterns. Our findings provide evidence for the importance of institutional arrangements that build trust and cooperation in increasingly polarised and divided legislative bodies.
... Running for and holding political office is an additional way to participate politically. Women lag behind men in running for and holding office at all levels of American politics, though lower levels of office such as school board and the state legislatures of some states have a higher proportion of women than the U.S. House and Senate (Center for American Women & Politics, 2018c;Holman, 2017;Sweet-Cushman, 2018b). Men in pipeline careers to politics, more than women in those same careers, reported greater nascent political ambition or an interest in the possibility of someday running for office (Lawless & Fox, 2005) known to precede a political candidacy (Lawless, 2012): Fifty-nine percent of male respondents compared to 43% of female respondents stated they had considered running (Lawless & Fox, 2010, p. 52). ...
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Social role theory provides a framework to help understand the complexity of gender in the political sphere. We demonstrate how SRT both helps to explain extant research findings and to generate future research that will help explain the complicated ways in which gender shapes U.S. politics. This article considers two broad categories of behavior: the gendered opinions and engagement of the citizenry and the gendered evaluations of political actors by elites and voters. Within each category, we propose moving beyond the male‐female binary and consider the effects of gender in conjunction with other key political identities, such as race, ethnicity, age, as well as examining the effects of (dis)ability, and class. As well, our work demonstrates how masculinity encompasses the U.S. political system and serves as a backdrop in front of which gender roles shape political behavior, and role incongruity can lead to prejudice. This project lays the groundwork for future work to apply theories from psychology to a gendered analysis of U.S. politics. Through a better understanding of sex, gender, and their combined effects with race and other intersectional identities, we contribute to a broader goal of creating a more inclusive U.S. politics.
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As men and women are sociologically different, scientific literature attempts to explain differences in public outcomes in terms of the gender of elected representatives. In the municipal sphere, few studies have analyzed the short- and long-run effects of the gender of the mayor and the councillors on global budgetary policy. Our research aims to fill this gap. One of our main findings is that a change from a male to a female mayor, or a change in the proportion of female councillors ideologically alienated from a female mayor, has a significant impact on budgetary policy. We have also verified that the presence of female politicians with a right-wing ideology on a municipal council leads the municipality to lower levels of current expenditure with respect to non-social spending in both the short and the long term.
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Women govern differently and offer a distinct voice in the governing process yet remain significantly underrepresented among city managers and chief administrative officers. Despite decades of work to improve gender parity, women hold just 13% of chief local government positions according to the International City/County Managers Association (ICMA). One reason for this may be that women have different experiences and are socialized differently than men, as suggested by differing motivations, identities, and attitudes. Using a mixed-methods approach, we explore differences in the experiences and socialization of women and men that may contribute to the gender disparity in representation among city managers. Our study yields several significant findings that suggest women are mentored differently, develop different political attitudes over time, and develop confidence differently than their male counterparts. Contrary to prior research, we did not find significant differences in public service motivations by gender or year of service.
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In November 2017, New Orleans elected the first woman, and first Black woman, mayor in the city’s history. Voters were unable to rely on gender, race, or partisanship to differentiate between the candidates in the race. How, then, do voters make decisions absent traditional heuristics? Using an analysis of campaign materials and two-wave panel survey, we show that the candidates sent ideological signals with endorsements and issue foci and that voters responded by placing the candidates ideologically. Those voters who could not differentiate between the candidates’ ideologies were less likely to turn out to vote and took longer to decide in the elections. Using a new measure of relative ideological distance adopted for multicandidate races, we show that the distance between each voter and the nearest candidates correlated with vote choice. Our results add to our knowledge of voting behavior and the use of ideology in local elections.
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The adage “All politics is local” in the United States is largely true. Of the United States’ 90,106 governments, 99.9% are local governments. Despite variations in institutional features, descriptive representation, and policy-making power, political scientists have been slow to take advantage of these variations. One obstacle is that comprehensive data on local politics is often extremely difficult to obtain; as a result, data is unavailable or costly, hard to replicate, and rarely updated. We provide an alternative: crowdsourcing this data. We demonstrate and validate crowdsourcing data on local politics using two different data collection projects. We evaluate different measures of consensus across coders and validate the crowd’s work against elite and professional datasets. In doing so, we show that crowdsourced data is both highly accurate and easy to use. In doing so, we demonstrate that nonexperts can be used to collect, validate, or update local data.
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Marriage rights were extended to same‐sex couples in the United States in 2015. However, anecdotes of bureaucratic noncompliance (in the form of bias or denial of license issuance) raise the possibility that de jure marriage equality has not led to equality in practice. We investigate this by conducting a nationwide audit experiment of local‐level marriage license–granting officials in the United States. These officials vary in the constituencies they serve, as well as how they are selected, allowing us to evaluate long‐standing hypotheses about bureaucratic responsiveness. Overall, we find no evidence of systematic discrimination against same‐sex couples—regardless of responsiveness measure, institutions, ideology, or prior state legal history. We find, however, that among same‐sex couples, officials tended to be more responsive to lesbian couples. In contrast to evidence in other areas of service provision, such as policing and federal assistance programs, we find bureaucrats tasked with provision of marriage services show little evidence of discrimination.
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Using a new data set of state political party bylaws and demographics of state party chairs, I evaluate whether women were more likely to run for Congress during the 2018 midterm elections from parties with higher levels of gender diversity. I construct three measures of gender diversity, whether each party was chaired by a woman, granted committee membership to an allied women’s group, and required gender parity among their committee members. Democratic parties are more likely to be chaired by a woman and to require gender parity among their members, but Republican parties are more likely to grant membership to allied women’s groups. Considering the implications of these rules, I find Democratic women were more likely to run for Congress representing parties that grant membership to an allied women’s group and parties chaired by a woman.
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When women gained the national right to vote 100 years ago, remarkable possibilities for their voice and presence in politics opened. However, despite gains in women’s representation, numerous gaps continue to exist in which adult women engage less in politics than men. In identifying and explaining adult gender gaps, little attention has been given to whether gaps emerge among children. This is a pressing issue because children’s perceptions are likely to influence their participation as adults. This article explores whether and how girls and boys differently view politics and their role in it. We report survey data from more than 1,600 children ages 6 to 12 to explore basic gender gaps in political interest and ambition. We argue that these results may reveal the roots of a larger problem: 100 years after women gained suffrage, girls still express less interest and enthusiasm than boys for political life and political office.
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The desire to grow a tax base often compels local governments to compete and cooperate simultaneously with nearby jurisdictions. Managing interjurisdictional relations is an important role of administrative officers. While scholars have expressed concern about the dominance of masculine imagery and the underrepresentation of women in public administration, gender’s role in interjurisdictional relations has received little attention. This study compared perceptions of interjurisdictional competition and cooperation among US. city and county administrators. The main results suggest that men and women have similar perceptions of competition and cooperation. Moreover, perceptions of whether competition comes from nearby or distant jurisdictions also does not appear to vary by gender. Rather than being influenced by individual identities, perceptions varied based on institutional characteristics, such as the extent of local responsibility over economic development planning, the number of organizations that participate in the planning process, and fiscal decentralization.
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Empirical research has tried to explain the effect of female politicians on various outcomes of political institutions. Few studies have focused on how the gender of politicians may affect institutional fiscal performance. Our research shows that both a female mayor, although with limited effect, and a greater share of female councillors worsen the fiscal performance of Spanish municipalities, which contrasts with the hypotheses raised, which were based on the mainstream of theoretical literature. Furthermore, right‐wing female councillors significantly increase the current budgetary imbalances, and female mayors with the same ideology seem to reduce the level of debt per capita.
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Purpose: To investigate how and in what way local governance of education is consequential to the work of changing public schools. The focus is on the board of education meeting as a ritual performance where authority is socially negotiated to manage the emotional and symbolic interactions that shape the district organization. Research Design: Data are drawn from 30 months of organizational fieldwork in New Haven Public Schools. Analysis is conducted on meeting transcripts, participant observer field notes, and stakeholder interviews. Findings: Observed as a ritual chain, four aspects of board of education meetings can be manipulated by those attempting to assert their authority within the organization. Organizational members used copresence, shared understandings of the ritual, emotions and symbols, and feelings of solidarity to set boundaries around the organization and maintain stability. Conclusions: Performances of organizational routines such as board meetings are consequential to the micro-level work of leading and changing education. School improvement and reform initiatives must account for the midlevel of school governance at the district and board level to make meaningful and sustainable change.
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This research examines the position of county clerk, where women are numerically disproportionately over-represented. Using data collected from the National Association of Counties and the U.S. Census Bureau, the models estimate the correlation between the county clerk’s sex and county-level demographic, social, and political factors with maximum likelihood logit estimates. This research suggests that while women are better represented in the office of county clerk across the United States, when compared to other elective offices, this representation may be because this office is not seen as attractive to men and its responsibilities fit within the construct of traditional gender norms.
Article
Democratic accountability requires voters to select high-quality politicians or sanction incumbents. To what extent does local electoral politics meet this standard? I explore the electoral context of the county sheriff, typically tasked with corrections and policing. Using an original dataset of 5500 sheriff elections, I produce the first estimates of electoral competitiveness and incumbency advantage for sheriffs, including variation in the incumbency advantage by partisan election, timing, and agency size. The sheriff incumbency advantage estimated with a regression discontinuity design is about a 45 percentage point boost in the probability of winning the next election – far exceeding the advantages of other local offices. One consequence is a “delayed partisan realignment” with mismatch between national and county-level voting. Moreover, I show that sheriffs hold office for more than twice as long as appointed police chiefs, compared to whom sheriffs enjoy independence from elected officials without facing significant scrutiny by voters.
Article
Gender inequities in public organizations manifest in various forms, including gaps in leadership roles and compensation. Increasing women’s representation in elected offices may reduce gender inequities in the public sector. This study examines whether women’s representation in local elected offices reduces gender wage disparities among men and women serving in Brazilian municipal executive bureaucracies. The findings suggest that municipalities with women mayors and larger proportions of women on the city council have smaller gender wage gaps in the municipal executive bureaucracy than those with men mayors and few women councilors. Furthermore, statistical models that account for diversity among men and women mayors in terms of their age, education, and partisanship suggest that even men mayors that likely hold progressive attitudes do not reduce gender disparities to the same degree as most women mayors. These findings underscore the importance of women’s representation for reducing gender inequities in the public sector.
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This research note addresses whether women representatives tend to hold differing policy priorities than men by analyzing the policy concerns of municipal councilors elected in Canadian cities. We use data from an original dataset derived from a survey of sitting Canadian councilors conducted in 2014. Following the existing literature, we hypothesize that female councilors are more likely than male councilors to prioritize “non-traditional” policy domains. We find that women are more likely than men to prioritize three non-traditional policy domains: arts and culture, the environment, and social services. These differences are confirmed for social services and the environment in a multivariate analysis with control variables. Our findings confirm that female elected officials in Canadian local government systemically differ from men in their policy concerns, and provide further substantiation that increased numbers of women in elected office may accordingly shift the policy concerns of local governments as wholes.
Article
This study explores managerial preferences’ variation among mayors due to Indigenous identity. Specifically, we propose Indigenous identity is associated with more outward and collaborative managerial strategies, as well as more within-group collaboration. We test these hypotheses in a 2017 survey data of 43 Indigenous and 34 non-Indigenous sitting mayors, covering 77 Guatemalan municipalities. Findings are mixed. While different preferences in managerial styles exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous mayors, they mismatch our expectations. However, results suggest that the share of Indigenous population is associated with a stronger mayoral outward management orientation and a higher likelihood to collaborate with an Indigenous partner organization.
Article
A survey of 711 candidates for local offices in the United States, conducted in December 2021, reveals that many were concerned before they began their campaigns about the impact of politics on their work and family, the time demands of campaigning, their ability to raise funds, and their knowledge of the process, among other obstacles. Many candidates who had anticipated each concern found it less onerous than they had expected. Those who were parents, those with full-time jobs, and those who had experienced poverty as children were especially likely to have difficulty meeting work and family obligations while campaigning. Being liberal, being young, having less education, and experiencing poverty in childhood were all associated with concerns about being qualified to run. The study offers additional details about which backgrounds and experiences are associated with specific challenges in local campaigns. The results may inform efforts to recruit and support underrepresented candidates.
Article
We expand the research on the career paths of the chief administrative officers managing cities of all sizes in the United States (U.S.) by surveying the chief administrative officers working in the small, medium, and large cities throughout the U.S. We collected 345 surveys from chief administrative officers. The survey included questions on the career paths of managers and asked respondents to discuss factors and challenges that have influenced their career paths. From our analysis, we find that the career path to city management positions often begins with prior experience in local government administration and higher educational attainment, such as an MPA degree. The surveyed managers appear to be working longer in the same cities and they identify technical aspects of their jobs as being more challenging than political conflict and relations with the public..
Article
While recent gains in diversity in US state legislatures are notable, state legislatures remain disproportionately white and male. In this critical perspective piece, we examine the gains in representation and entrance to office of a group legislators who comprise an important intersection of identity in American politics: queer women of color. We find that the 30 Democratic queer women of color currently in office replaced fellow Democrats in all but four instances and defeated an incumbent in 13 elections. By providing an overview of these legislators, this piece contributes toward advancing a more representative understanding of the diversity of women in elective office. In doing so, we strive to pivot the center on queer women of color political elites and note several avenues for future research.
Article
Research about women’s representation in county governments and whether women’s representation at the local level translates into different policy outcomes has been relatively unexplored (Holman 2017). Thus, we ask whether electing a woman to the county legislative body leads to different policy outputs, specifically in areas like education, health, hospitals, housing, and welfare. Our dataset builds on de Benedictis-Kessner and Warshaw’s (2020) work on county legislative elections by gender coding candidates, leading to a full dataset of nearly 16,500 gender-coded races for county legislative positions, thus creating the most comprehensive, gender-coded dataset of elections in county governments. Using a regression discontinuity design, we find that electing a woman to the county’s governing body does not lead to greater spending generally or on social and redistributive policy. Yet there are specific conditions in which they can more easily advocate for their preferred fiscal preferences. For instance, under commission forms of government, electing a woman leads to increased expenditures on welfare. Moreover, electing women has a positive effect on spending when the county is receiving a greater proportion of revenue from higher levels of government.
Article
Female representation may be a key factor in improving the quality of governance. In fact, the literature considers that the presence of women in organisations tends to improve performance. In this context, this paper attempts to analyse whether the presence of women in municipal councils has an influence on the efficiency of public services for a sample of 141 Spanish municipalities with more than 50,000 inhabitants for the period 2014–2018. Our results show a U-shaped relationship between the number of female councillors and the level of efficiency in Spanish municipalities. This means that the presence of women is positively associated with municipal efficiency but only if the number of female councillors is relatively high. On the contrary, their voice and personal characteristics are diluted among their male counterparts, and efficiency may be reduced.
Article
Marijuana legalization in U.S. states has introduced new regulatory processes, which allow for some degree of local authority. A common provision in state laws has provided a local option, which enables municipalities to prohibit commercial cannabis facilities within their borders. This paper examined potential determinants of prohibition decisions, with an emphasis on community and local government characteristics. Using a multivariate logistic regression model, determinants of local decisions to prohibit cannabis businesses in Michigan were analyzed. A unique feature of Michigan’s approach to legalization included separate local options to opt into medical marijuana and opt out of recreational marijuana. The results found that both community and local government characteristics explain variation in prohibitions on marijuana businesses. In general, local governments were more tolerant of marijuana businesses in areas with lower densities of senior citizens and higher densities of Black residents. However, the effects of some determinants varied based on whether the decision was to allow medical or recreational marijuana. Higher income areas were more likely to opt out of recreational marijuana, but they were no different from other areas on the likelihood of opting into medical marijuana. Prohibition decisions also were affected by local government characteristics, such as the number of members on city council, female representation, and having a council-manager form of government.
Article
This article considers whether quota or parity laws designed to improve the representation of women in plurinominal elections have a spillover effect to uninominal elections. It tests empirically the effects of quota and parity legislations implemented in Ecuador for plurinominal elections on the proportion of women elected as mayors. Based on an unpublished database, our results show that, after the implementation of such legislation, the probability of a woman being elected as mayor almost doubles (ceteris paribus). We also find evidence that a possible causal chain effect of the documented spillover effects is the increasing importance of female role models, motivated by institutional changes shaped by the new legislation. Este artículo analiza si las leyes de cuotas o de paridad, elaboradas para mejorar la representación de mujeres en elecciones plurinominales, surten el efecto “derrame” sobre las elecciones uninominales. Para probar esta propuesta, recurrimos al análisis de los efectos de las leyes de cuotas y paridad implementadas en Ecuador para elecciones de legisladores (plurinominales) en la proporción de alcaldesas electas. Usando una base de datos inédita, nuestros resultados demuestran que, después de la implementación de la ley de paridad, las probabilidades de que una mujer sea elegida alcaldesa prácticamente se duplican (ceteris paribus). El artículo también encuentra evidencia de que una posible cadena causal que justifica la idea del efecto “derrame” es el incremento de modelos a seguir femeninos, creados por los cambios institucionales derivados de la nueva legislación. 本文衡量了多代表选举中用于提升女性代表比例的配额或平等选举法是否对单一代表选举产生溢出效应。本文从实证上检验了厄瓜多尔多代表选举执行的配额法及平等选举法对女性市长比例产生的效应。通过使用一项未发表的数据库,我们的研究结果显示,在执行这类法律后,女性被选为市长的概率几乎增加了一倍(其他条件不变的情况下)。我们还发现证据证明,溢出效应可能的因果链是不断增加的女性模范重要性,后者由新法律制定的制度变革所驱动。
Article
Women’s office seeking has been the subject of considerable research, but how likely a female candidate is to seek one office over another has not. Using a unique data set of office seeking in California local governments between 1996 and 2019, we address the likelihood that women will seek certain types of offices over others; and whether and how female office seeking is affected by the context of local elections. In general, we find that women are most likely to seek citywide administrative offices, followed by school board seats. Local office-seeking by women, however, also varies by jurisdiction size, political context, and over time, particularly for county-level offices. Our focus on offices as a key part of female candidate entry sheds important new light on candidate behavior and the prospects for greater descriptive representation in local government.
Article
Municipal mayoral elections present a compelling puzzle: what happens when gendered stereotypes about level of government conflict with those about type of office? Although local politics is viewed as communal and more feminine, the mayoral office is a prominent, prestigious position of political leadership that voters may perceive as more masculine. We intervene by analyzing open-ended comments about 32 mayoral candidates from a survey of 14,438 municipal electors in eight Canadian cities. We argue gendered trait and issue stereotypes are embedded in voters’ assessments of mayoral candidates. We find no evidence that female candidates benefit from their perceived competence in local policy issues, and they experience backlash when they display the traits typically associated with strong leaders. We conclude that, even at the level of government frequently thought of as more open to women, female mayoral candidates are disadvantaged by an enduring association between masculinity and political leadership.
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A introdução de quotas legislativas (33,3%), em Portugal, em 2006, influenciou positivamente a proporção de mulheres eleitas, mas, ao contrário dos restantes patamares políticos, no governo local a imparidade subsiste acentuadamente em alguns órgãos e cargos, situação que representa terreno fértil de pesquisa. Contudo, verifica­se uma escassez de estudos sobre o tema. O artigo equaciona a relação entre a falta de conhecimento sobre as especificidades locais e o desacerto da solução legislativa. O levantamento exaustivo de literatura, que identificou 43 títulos, e o contacto com investigadoras/es significativas/os permitiram clarificar causas da eficácia diferenciada da Lei da Paridade, explicar a escassez de estudos e anotar tópicos para investigação futura.
Article
The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare deep-rooted racial and gender disparities in the United States. The lack of national policy produced an uneven patchwork of local policies. We quantitatively evaluate how descriptive representation translated to substantive representation in 500 cities’ efforts to declare racism as a public health crisis and enact eviction moratoria. We find that representation shapes explicitly anti-racist resolutions on racism, not implicitly anti-racist eviction moratoria, suggesting the descriptive-substantive representation connection is more powerful for explicitly anti-racist policies.
Article
Extant research on gender, context, and representation in the United States reveals women remain underrepresented as candidates, winners, and throughout political institutions. To better understand the sources of these gender gaps, greater consideration must be given to strategic entry decisions in primary elections. We study this question using aggregate data from state legislative primaries from 2001–2015. We find compelling evidence that women’s probability of entry and victory in primary contests is affected by district political context – especially women-friendliness and religiosity. These results support the strategic entry hypothesis and provide further evidence that the most significant barriers to the representation of women in American political institutions precede electoral politics.
Article
Women continue to occupy lesser positions of power at all political levels in Canada, although scholars still argue on the accessibility of municipal politics to women. However, no previous study has systematically examined the gender ratio of mayors across Canada, as well as their (active) use of social media platforms in a professional capacity. Using novel data, this study examines the variation in social media adoption and active use by gender outside of an electoral campaign. Results show that there is a higher proportion of women mayors who have a Facebook page, as well as Twitter and Instagram accounts and who actively use them outside of electoral campaigns, when compared with men mayors’ social media practices.
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Women are less likely than men to run as candidates in political elections. One reason for this is gendered upbringing, which depresses political ambition among women and strengthens such ambition among men. Furthermore, gendered upbringing can be more pronounced when parents have children of both sexes. Based on these previous findings, we therefore test the theory that both women and men have a higher likelihood of becoming a political candidate if they have sisters rather than brothers. To establish whether the likelihood of running for office is affected by sibling sex composition, we utilize the fact that nature randomly assigns the sex of the younger sibling when parents decide to have a second child. Using data covering the entire adult Danish population and every candidate in national and local elections between 1990 and 2015, we find, however, no evidence that men and women with a younger sister are more likely to run for office. These findings run counter to previous findings on the effects of siblings and gendered upbringing.
Article
By using a sample of 140 Spanish municipalities for the period 2008-2018, our results show that the gender of the mayor and the percentage of women councillors in local governments influence budget deviations both in expenditures and revenues. Concretely, municipalities with women mayors and more female members tend to overestimate revenues and underestimate expenditures; but these effects turn contrary when the number of female councillors increases, resulting in a better financial situation. Then, we may conclude that women could contribute to the financial health of local governments once they have enough representation.
Article
Can legislation encouraging women’s political involvement impact women’s desire to run for elected office? Eleven states have passed legislation to promote equal gender representation on appointed government boards, and many argue this legislation will also develop a pipeline of women candidates to run for elected office. This paper is the first scholarly work to assess if gender balance legislation (GBL) increases the number of women candidates and women legislators within a state. I use a nonparametric generalization of the difference-in-differences estimator and find very little evidence that GBL significantly impacts women’s representation at the state level. Results are consistent across multiple outcome variables and different model specifications, including two-way fixed effects, generalized synthetic control, and synthetic control models. The insignificant impact of GBL speaks to the need to thoroughly investigate which institutional reforms adequately feed the female candidate pipeline.
Article
Why do people assume female politicians are less likely than men to engage in the illegal use of public positions for private gain? We argue that voters may perceive women as marginalized within political institutions, or as more risk averse and consequently more constrained by institutional oversight, which could lead to perceptions of women as less likely to engage in corruption. Using an original survey experiment, we test these mechanisms against conventional wisdom that women are seen as more honest. We find strong support for the risk aversion explanation, as well as heterogeneous effects by respondent sex for both the marginalization and honesty mechanisms. These findings suggest that the institutional contexts in which women are operating can help explain why people perceive them as less likely to engage in corruption. Identifying these mechanisms is critical to understanding the role of women in politics and for improving trust in government.
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Contested Transformation constitutes the first comprehensive study of racial and ethnic minorities holding elective office in the United States at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Building on data from the Gender and Multicultural Leadership (GMCL) National Database and Survey, it provides a baseline portrait of Black, Latino, Asian American, and American Indian elected officials - the women and men holding public office at national, state, and local levels of government. Analysis reveals commonalities and differences across race and gender groups on their backgrounds, paths to public office, leadership roles, and policy positions. Challenging mainstream political science theories in their applicability to elected officials of color, the book offers new understandings of the experiences of those holding public office today. Gains in political leadership and influence by people of color are transforming the American political landscape, but they have occurred within a contested political context, one where struggles for racial and gender equality continue.
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Many researchers point to gender inequities in party recruitment practices to explain women’s underrepresentation on the ballot. However, there has been little systematic research about how men and women respond to recruitment, so we do not know whether gender-balanced recruitment would actually lead to gender-balanced outcomes. We conduct two studies to address this question. First, in cooperation with a county Republican Party, we identically recruited 5510 male and 5506 female highly active party members to attend a free candidate training seminar. Republican women were half as likely to respond to the invitation as men. Second, we conducted a survey experiment of 3960 voters on the Utah Colleges Exit Poll. Republican men’s level of self-reported political ambition was increased by the prospect of elite recruitment significantly more than Republican women’s, thereby increasing the gender gap vis-à-vis the control. The gender gap in the effect of recruitment on political ambition among Democrats was much smaller. Together, these findings suggest that to fully understand the role recruitment plays in women’s underrepresentation, researchers must understand the ways in which men and women respond to recruitment, not just whether political elites engage in gendered recruitment practices.
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Despite dramatic progress in winning election to political office, women remain underrepresented at all levels of government in the USA. A great deal of research has focused on institutional barriers to equal representation, particularly at the city level. Yet, the findings have been inconsistent across studies and little attention has been paid to the possible mechanisms that might account for the relationships between institutions and representation. In this paper, we focus on one particularly well-studied institution - the method of election for city councilors. We use a decade of candidate-level data from a single, large state (California) to show that women are significantly advantaged in district (versus at-large) elections and in city clerkships compared with mayoralties and council positions. We suggest that this may be the result of the competitiveness of elections, the status of the offices, and gender stereotypes. We offer support for this argument by analyzing the proportion of women elected to city councils and the probability of victory for different types of offices including city council, mayor, and city clerk.
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A partisan disparity in women representatives in the US House emerged in the 1980s and has continued to grow in magnitude. We show that this pattern closely mirrors the emergence of a partisan disparity in the proportion of women in the US public with the typical characteristics of high-level officeholders. Our analysis indicates that the proportion of women in the Democratic pool of potential candidates is now two to three times larger than in the Republican pool of potential candidates. Given the current association of party identification with gender and other characteristics, this gap is more likely to increase than decrease over the coming decade, with potential consequences for the descriptive and substantive representation of women in American politics.
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The abstract for this document is available on CSA Illumina.To view the Abstract, click the Abstract button above the document title.
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Recent literature on the governance of communities reveals a great deal of divisiveness and conflict among governmental and other political actors over questions of policy. In this study, the authors measure and explain the perceived level of policy conflict on city councils. The authors use data from a survey of approximately 1,430 municipal officers representing 92 Michigan municipalities with populations greater than 10,000 to measure conflict. This research focuses on the perceptions of city council members and mayors. Using multivariate statistical techniques, the authors find that respondent demographic characteristics, citywide conditions, and structural factors influence council member and mayoral perceptions of policy conflict.
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There is an implicit assumption behind advocating for more minorities or women in elected office, namely, that these officials will bring a new power and influence to their underrepresented groups. However, for women, this idealized viewpoint ignores the social dynamics that subordinate women's words and actions even in “well-balanced” male and female group interactions. Using transcribed verbatim transcripts of 12 state legislative committee hearings, this research analyzes the conversational dynamics of committee members, witnesses, chairs, and sponsors. Sex differences among committee members are highly significant, even after accounting for political factors and structural features of the hearing. In addition, male and female chairs do not conduct hearings in the same way, and these differences affect the behavior of witnesses and committee members. The findings suggest that as the proportion of women increases in a legislative body, men become more verbally aggressive and controlling of the hearing. Women legislators may be seriously disadvantaged and unable to participate equally in legislative policymaking in committee hearings. Full the list of publications citing this article (n=288), please see my google scholar citation page, http://scholar.google.com/citations?hl=en&user=sM8NoacAAAAJ
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This article adds to the body of knowledge about city managers and council-manager form cities by determining why so few women are found in the ranks of city managers. Using graduates of the University of Kansas master of public administration (MPA) program as our sample, we find that women interested in city management careers face a paradox: Married women have a greater probability of becoming city managers. But if they marry and have children they face issues of relocation, child rearing, and parental care—all of which make it more difficult to get a city management job, not to mention doing that job with its typically higher time demands.
Article
Public school boards are a significant exception to the significant gender gap in political representation. Throughout the country, 44 percent of board members are women; this is a potentially significant female candidate pool for higher office, given that, for example, of the state legislators who held prior elective office, 26 percent of them had served on a school board. With such a collection of experienced candidates, why then, are so few women progressing to higher levels of office? Drawing on findings of a survey of a representative sample of more than 300 elected school board members in the state of Pennsylvania, I extend the limited research on the role of networks of recruitment’s impact on the progressive ambition among elected school board members and discusses the factors in both personal and political network recruitment associated with gender differences. I also highlight the largest delta between men and women: interest in running for state legislature. Implications for the deficient pipeline of women to higher office and potential remedies are discussed.
Article
Professionally trained administrators are critical to the operation and management of governmental agencies. That is particularly true with respect to local government, where city managers are situated at the top of the organizational hierarchy. However, these senior management positions remain largely the domain of males; female represent just 12% of the positions. This disparity, for reasons still unclear, comes to the fore at a time when the field of public administration faces a new set of global challenges, and many in the field have expressed concern about a looming leadership gap. As the world of public administration changes, so must the teaching of the subject, driven by specific areas of inquiry, including why more women do not attain senior executive positions. Using national postsecondary enrollment data, this article demonstrates that the underrepresentation of females among city managers cannot be explained by a shortage of women with professional training. The central conclusion of this research is that professional training programs can better prepare women for the new world of public administration by making gender more visible within the leadership curriculum.
Book
In democracies, power is obtained via competition. Yet, as women gain access to parliaments in record numbers, worldwide collaboration appears to be on the rise. This is puzzling: Why, if politicians can secure power through competition, would we observe collaboration in congress? Using evidence from 200 interviews with politicians from Argentina and a novel dataset from 23 Argentine legislative chambers over an 18-year period, Gendering Legislative Behavior reexamines traditional notions of competitive democracy by evaluating patterns of collaboration among legislators. Although only the majority can secure power via competition, all legislators – particularly those who do not have power – can influence the policy-making process through collaboration. I argue that as women have limited access to formal and informal political power, they collaborate more than men to influence policy-making. Despite the benefits of collaboration, patterns of collaboration vary among women because different legislative contexts either facilitate or constrain women’s collaboration.
Article
This research seeks to explore the extent of women representation on county governing boards and tests several hypotheses to explain variation in representation. This study evaluates a random sample of 394 of the more than 3000 counties in the United States. Half of the counties did not have any women serving on their county governing boards. A two-stage analysis using first a logit model sought to explain when counties have women commissioners and then a truncated regression analysis evaluated the percentage of women serving on county boards. Size of governing boards, size of government, religious adherence, and two election formats had significant effects in explaining when a county had women commissioners. Three variables (religious adherence, level of support for President Obama, and size of governing boards) were significant in explaining the percentage of women serving on county governing boards with size of the boards operating opposite of the hypothesized direction.
Article
Gender differences in who gets recruited by political party elites contribute to women’s underrepresentation on the ballot, but recent evidence suggests that even when women are recruited to the same extent as men, they are still less likely to be interested in seeking office. Why do men and women respond differently to invitations to seek office? We hypothesize that women view party recruitment as a weaker signal of informal support than men do. We use a survey experiment on a sample of 3,640 elected municipal officeholders—themselves prospective recruits for higher office—to test this. We find that female respondents generally believe party leaders will provide female recruits less strategic and financial support than male recruits. In other words, even when elites recruit women, women are skeptical that party leaders will use their political and social capital on their behalf. This difference may account for many women’s lukewarm responses to recruitment.
Article
Different from the majority of past research on gender gaps in political officeholding, we adopt an intersectionality framework and move beyond traditional individual factors to explore what implications certain elements in the political opportunity structure may have for women and men of color elected officials serving in county, municipal, and local school board offices. We argue that structural and contextual factors, such as type of institutions, election systems, and jurisdictional racial makeup, may influence the calculations women of color make concerning the accessibility of elective office. Using data from the Gender and Multiracial Leadership (GMCL) project, we find county offices to be the least, and seats on school boards the most, accessible to women of color. Of the types of electoral arrangements, we find multimember districts (MMD) to be the most significant variable predicting the likelihood of women of color in office. Although both Black and Latina women benefit from having a significant share of coethnics or nonwhites in jurisdictions, the two groups of women have an opposite relationship to their racial constituent makeup than that held by their male counterparts.
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The operation and study of state and local government and politics has gone through a significant transformation in the last several decades. For this issue of Reviews and Essays, the author sat down with leading scholar, Ann O’M. Bowman, to discuss the past, present, and future of state, local, and intergovernmental research. While this essay is not meant to be an exhaustive examination of the “state” of the state and local literature, it does explore various interesting lines of inquiry that deserve continued scholarly attention and discusses the potential for research to inform practice.
Book
How do female municipal leaders influence policymaking in American cities? Can gender determine who gets a say in local politics or what programs cities fund? These are some of the questions raised and answered in Mirya Holman's provocative Women in Politics in the American City. This book provides the first comprehensive evaluation of the influence of gender on the behavior of mayors and city council members in the United States. Holman considers the effects of gender in local, urban politics and analyzes how a leader's gender does-and does not-influence policy preferences, processes, behavior, and outcomes. Holman effectively uses original survey data to evaluate policy attitudes, combined with observations of city council meetings and interviews with leaders and community members. In doing so, she demonstrates the importance of considering the gender of leaders in local office. Women in Politics in the American City emphasizes that the involvement of women in local politics does matter and that it has significant consequences for urban policy as well as state and local democracy.
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Objective. The gender transformation taking place at the local level is the least studied of the three levels within the federal system. As a result, the depth of our knowledge regarding gender influences in city government is much shallower than it should be. The purpose of this research is to fill this void with an eye toward uncovering how or whether gender influences city administration. Methods. Using multivariate analysis (logistic and OLS techniques), this research analyzes data derived from a national mail survey of women and men city managers. Results. While final results are mixed, analysis revealed that women managers were more likely than their male counterparts to focus on community relations and to include citizen input in decision-making practices. However, in several aspects of the role of city manager, the socializing influence of the city management profession appears to override any possible gender differences. Conclusions. In the end, we find that transferring expectations about women political leaders to positions in city management is fraught with complexity. Research and analysis of gender must take into account the political context of the environment being considered.
Article
In How Women Represent Women: Political Parties, Gender and Representation in the State Legislatures, Tracy Osborn examines two avenues through which political parties fundamentally affect how women legislators represent women by creating women's issues policies. First, women's party identities shape the types of policy alternatives they offer to solve women's policy problems. Second, parties organize the legislative process by holding majority control, to varying degrees, over agenda setting and policy creation, promoting some women legislators' policy proposals over others. Osborn tests these two avenues of influence by comparing partisan women's legislative behavior toward the creation of women's issues policies across different party environments in the U.S. state legislatures. She uses original election, sponsorship, and roll call data in nearly all ninety-nine state legislative chambers in 1999-2000. She concludes that Republican and Democratic women offer different solutions to women's policy problems based in their party identities. Depending on which party controls the legislative process and how strongly they do so, this party control promotes one set of partisan policy alternatives over the other. Thus, political parties determine which women's issues policies become law. Ultimately, this book demonstrates how essential parties are to understanding how women elected to public office translate their interest in women's issues into substantive public policy.
Article
Mainly investigating the share of women in national parliaments, the vast cross-national literature on women’s descriptive (numerical) representation frequently overlooks women’s local representation. Yet, local councils are important political arenas. To what extent are women underrepresented there? What are the determinants of the variation of women’s local representation within and across countries? We investigate these questions through a subnational-level study, covering 272 regions in 29 European countries. Using multilevel modeling, we find that regions with high female labor force participation support for leftist rather than radical right parties and high degrees of urbanization tend to elect more women. Our results also indicate that high women’s representation levels at the national level trickle down to the local level.
Article
Politicians and leaders use metaphors and frames in political communication to provide citizens with meaning, persuade, and promote emotional reactions. At the same time, a large body of scholarship documents the propensity for female leaders to “speak in a different voice” when in political office. Research to date on policy metaphors, however, rarely compares male and female leaders’ use of metaphors or evaluates the use of these metaphors in local politics. Using State of the City addresses from 16 cities to evaluate the connection between policy agendas, metaphors, and mayoral gender, I find that male and female leaders emphasize similar issues in their speeches, but use different frames to present these issues, with female leaders using more nurturing framing than do male leaders. In addition, while both male and female mayors emphasize economic development as the central issue in their speeches, female mayors use more inclusive framing in these discussions.
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Objective This article examines sheriffs’ attitudes and their offices’ policies concerning violence against women and assesses the connection between their attitudes and policies.Methods Using data from an original, national survey completed in the fall of 2012 of elected sheriffs (N = 553), we evaluate a battery of rape and domestic violence myths and examine the presence of various violence against women policies.ResultsWe find that many sheriffs express belief in inaccurate myths concerning violence against women. We find strong connections between sheriffs’ attitudes about women's equality and their attitudes about violence against women. In turn, their attitudes about gender-based violence relate to training and policies for addressing these cases.Conclusion In an office like that of the sheriff, with both bureaucratic and political elements, attitudes of political leaders influence policies. Our findings suggest an important connection between elected officials’ attitudes and policy actions beyond the traditional legislative arena.
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Do men and women respond to various party recruitment messages similarly? Working with the Utah County Republican Party, we designed a field experiment in which we invited over 11,600 male and female party activists to attend a free, party-sponsored “Prospective Candidate Information Seminar” by randomizing different invitation messages. We found that women were half as likely as men to respond to recruitment—log on to the seminar website for more information, register for the seminar, and attend the seminar. While we found some suggestive evidence about what recruitment messages may particularly motivate women or men vis-à-vis a control message, our findings are inconclusive because of a low response rate. This first attempt to experimentally test gendered reactions to recruitment in a sample of active party supporters provides a valuable baseline for future research.
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The increasing racial diversity of women in the United States makes the underrepresentation of women of color in politics an important area for research. To better understand the reasons for the underrepresentation of women of color and how more women of color might be elected in the future, this article presents a case study of a unique campaign training program designed for women of color. The program is the Center for American Women and Politics’ (CAWP) New Jersey Ready to Run® Diversity Initiative. Campaign trainings have proliferated in recent years and seem to play a disproportionate role in women’s election to office. By examining perceptions of the barriers facing women of color and by identifying the mechanisms by which the Diversity Initiative seeks to help women, this article sheds light on the status of women candidates of color and the role of campaign trainings more generally. For political practitioners, this article suggests the utility of creating programs for women of color.
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This citation is to a review of Women, Elections, and Representation, authored by R. Darcy, Susan Welch, and Janet Clark, and published by Longman in 1987. The review is by Diane L. Fowlkes, published in the APSR in 1988.
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This paper presents the results of a decisional analysis of 30 recent policy issues in Lawrence, Kansas, a setting having several characteristics conducive to the effective participation of women. On 20 of these issues, gender cleavages or differences were observed involving men and women activists and policymakers; such cleavages were much less prevalent among citizens at large. Gender cleavages involving policymakers and activists were found to overlap only partially with other types of cleavages. Particularly on issues with stronger gender cleavages, the views of men tended to prevail over those of women. This greater responsiveness to the preferences of men than to the preferences of women was not adequately explained by the greater participation of men, for regression models suggest that policy changes are more sensitive to increases in men's participation than to increases in women's participation. Explanations of such "gender bias" are briefly explored.
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While individual women representatives in government have been found to behave differently than men, the causal connection between the increased presence of women in elected offices and the production of women-friendly policies is tenuous at best. This study leverages the variation in women's office holding, government structures, and policy outputs found in American cities to address that puzzle. It argues that when women obtain leadership positions in municipal government and when the positions they hold have greater power relative to other municipal positions, cities will be more likely to produce policy outputs that are often associated with women's interests and needs. Utilizing an original city-level dataset and modeling women's presence as mayors and policy outputs endogenously, the results reveal that empowered female executives in municipal governments influence expenditure decisions made as part of the federal Community Development Block Grant program. The findings suggest that political scientists should consider not only the presence of an underrepresented group, but also the relative amount of power that group has when assessing the effects on substantive representation.
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Descriptive representation within legislatures is often held to be important because of its assumed effects on public policy. The research to date on the descriptive representation of women has generally focused on elite attitudes rather than on policy outcomes, and there is little agreement on the relationship between the increased representation of women and improved policy outcomes. We investigate the form of this relationship and whether the scope for a translation of descriptive representation into substantive representation is greatest during periods of policy innovation. We use a statistical analysis of child-care coverage in Norwegian municipalities in 1975, 1979, 1983, 1987, and 1991 to model the relationship between female representation and the provision of child care. We find that descriptive representation does affect policy outcome and that this relationship varies both according to the level of female representation and over time.
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Using a four state survey of party county chairs and locally elected women, this study finds support for the notion that potential women candidates are subject to bias in recruitment that hinders the cause of electing more women to state legislatures and Congress. It is hypothesized that bias is most likely due to one of two processes: one, the outgroup effect where negative evaluations of women as candidates are predicated on their lack of surface similarity to the predominantly male party elite, or two, the distribution effect where negative evaluations of women as candidates are predicated on the relative paucity of women in high status positions generally and politics specifically. Strong support was found for the outgroup effect, as party chairs consistently preferred candidates more like themselves. Given the ubiquity of men in the party elite, such outgroup biased attitudes represent a significant hurdle for prospective women candidates.
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A growing body of literature has found there are important differences in the priorities, leadership styles, and policy agendas of women and men public officials. In this article we examine and compare the behavior of men and women city managers. Explorations of gender and city management have been entirely overlooked in the public administration and women and politics literature. In the end, we find that women city managers are more likely than their male counterparts to incorporate citizen input, facilitate communication, and encourage citizen involvement in their decision-making process. This finding emerged when women and men stated their motivations for involvement in city administration, and when they explained how they made decisions. As a result, women may provide a distinct "voice" in the politics of city management.
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Analysts and political activists have expressed considerable interest in female representation in elective office, but very little is yet known about the impacts of female officeholding. This analysis examines the effect of female mayors on the governmental output of female employment in municipal bureaucracies in a national sample of cities. The findings suggest that a variety of supply and demand factors play a role in determining a given level of female employment representation, but that the presence of a female mayor is also significant, especially in regard to changes in employment representation.
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Professionally trained administrators are critical to the operation and management of governmental agencies. That is particularly true with respect to local government, where city managers are situated at the top of the organizational hierarchy. However, these senior management positions remain largely the domain of males; female represent just 12% of the positions. This disparity, for reasons still unclear, comes to the fore at a time when the field of public administration faces a new set of global challenges, and many in the field have expressed concern about a looming leadership gap. As the world of public administration changes, so must the teaching of the subject, driven by specific areas of inquiry, including why more women do not attain senior executive positions. Using national postsecondary enrollment data, this article demonstrates that the underrepresentation of females among city managers cannot be explained by a shortage of women with professional training. The central conclusion of this research is that professional training programs can better prepare women for the new world of public administration by making gender more visible within the leadership curriculum.
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Scholars of urban politics often argue that cities will shy away from extensive funding of social welfare programs, as fiscal realities make developmental policies far more attractive. Despite these arguments, cities continue to fund social welfare programs. One possible explanation is that some local officials prefer funding welfare programs. This research demonstrates that the presence of a female mayor has a large, positive influence on the likelihood a city participates in funding social welfare programs and the amount of monetary resources a city dedicates to these programs. High levels of female representation on city councils and a mayor-council form of government both interact with the presence of a female mayor to increase the provision and size of social welfare programs in cities.
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Do strong and active political parties enhance women's representation, or do they contribute to the ongoing inequality in men's and women's candidacy rates? Studies have examined this question by looking at a variety of measures of party strength, focusing particularly on the role parties play in candidate emergence. For qualified individuals in the pool of potential candidates, being encouraged to run for office by a political actor is the most important step in considering a candidacy (Lawless and Fox 2005). Such encouragement is especially important in increasing the typically lower political ambition among women in the candidate pool (Fox and Lawless 2010). Yet the limited research examining the effects of party recruitment on men's and women's candidacies finds negative (Niven 1998; 2006) or no (Sanbonmatsu 2006) effects of recruitment on women's representation. Some studies even find evidence that parties more often run female than male candidates as sacrificial lambs in unwinnable races (Carroll 1994; Stambough and O'Regan 2007). © 2013 The Women and Politics Research Section of the American Political Science Association.
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Women are less represented in prestigious national political offices than they are in state and local offices. How this underrepresentation may be related to perceived characteristics of office and candidate are explored in the two studies described here. In Study 1, the “masculinity/femininity” of local, state, and national offices was analyzed; all levels of office were rated as more “masculine” than “feminine.” In Study 2, the sex as well as the gender role of a hypothetical presidential candidate was varied. “Masculine” and male candidates were evaluated as being more competent on presidential tasks such as dealing with terrorism; “feminine” and female candidates were rated higher on tasks such as solving problems in our educational system. Men, regardless of gender role, were perceived as being more likely to win a presidential election, and “masculine” tasks were evaluated as being more important than “feminine” presidential tasks. Implications for future female politicians are discussed.
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Why is the descriptive (or numerical) representation of women in policy-making positions higher in some cities than in others? Despite a strong body of work on the descriptive representation of women in state government, research on the presence of women in municipal government is limited in empirical scope and theoretical development. This study is different. First, the authors employ an original data set of 239 cities with populations of 100,000 or more to update and extend the empirical reach of scholars’ knowledge. Second, the authors develop and test hypotheses to explain how the urban political context affects women’s descriptive representation. The analysis reveals that the election of women as council members and mayors are interdependent phenomena. The authors also find that political characteristics of local communities are consequential for predicting the presence of women as municipal policy makers—just as consequential as electoral structures and other institutional features.
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This article examines the recruitment and attitudes of female officials in Santa Clara County, California. As for recruitment, female candidates benefited from the area's favorable political climate and effective women's organizations. A surprising finding, in light of previous research, was that district elections were indispensable to women's electoral successes. And as for attitudes, while there were few policy differences between female and male officials, women had distinctive conceptions of power and politics. Given their numerical majorities on two local governing boards, they were free from the restraints experienced by "token women" (Kanter) and spoke candidly about their differences from male officials. An important new finding was the extent to which they spontaneously linked such differences to women's homemaking and childrearing experiences. The primary study material consists of intensive interviews with many of these officials in 1982.
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Recent research has explored differences in the experiences of women and men public officials. Overlooked in these examinations is the position of city manager—a significant position in terms of local administration and policy development. Current figures indicate that women are underrepresented in the field of city management when compared with their peers in the private sector and federal and state administration—women hold only 11% of city manager positions. In trying to explain women’s apparent underrepresentation, the authors explore the importance of mentoring in the public sector using data gathered from a nationwide study of women and men city managers. Their data suggest that mentoring in the city management profession is characterized by factors that appear to work against women. These factors, which include a vacuum of professional mentoring opportunities, may help explain the slow inclusion of women into the field of city management.
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Proponents of the political pipeline theory argue that when more women fill the ranks of locally elected positions, the number of qualified female candidates will increase and more women will eventually be elected statewide and nationally. Given that women are elected at the school board level at higher rates than any other political office, do women run for school board in hopes of using it as a stepping stone for a larger career in politics? This article analyzes whether there are gender differences among school board members with respect to the reasons they run for office. Men are more likely than women to be motivated to run to shape education policy and for religious or moral reasons. However, relatively few school board members run with the express purpose of gaining political experience, regardless of gender.
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Although the number of female governors has more than doubled over the past thirty years, few studies examine whether gender influences the policy interests of governors. To address this gap in the literature, we analyze whether gender affects the policy agendas of governors. Conducting a content analysis of state of the state speeches between 2006 and 2008, we examine whether gender influences the presence of social welfare policies on the policy agendas of governors. Even after controlling for political and situational factors, our results suggest that female governors devote more agenda attention to social welfare policy than their male colleagues.
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This study examines the commonly held view that women are different from men as political actors. It focuses on local representatives in Connecticut and inquires whether women politicians express more support for feminist political issues than do men and whether they express more support for a role for women in politics. When measured by a feminist policy index, women are more favorable toward feminist issues but they do not maintain a higher level of support when these issues compete with other political issues. Liberalism and party affiliation are better indicators of support for a feminist policy position. Four dimensions of women's rights policy are revealed in a factor analysis; sensitivity to discrimination against women in politics, skepticism about the ability of women to pursue political careers without damaging their private lives, support for the formal manifestations of the Women's Movement, and approval of a traditional image of women politicians. Significant differences between the sexes are found on the first two factors in the expected direction: women are more sympathetic to the plight of women politicians and men are more skeptical about women pursuing political careers.
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Few have studied differences between how women and men lead, particularly at the local level. This article addresses this gap by reporting the results of a unique study of 192 female mayors and 192 male mayors in cities with populations of over 30,000 to consider whether the female mayors emphasized different policy issues and whether the women in local leadership created alternative decision-making processes in allocating resources. Overall, the results show similarities on policy issues, the use of power, and budget issues. However, some key gender differences emerge. Female mayors were far more willing to change the budget process, be more inclusive, and seek broader participation. Finally, more women mayors than men were willing to admit fiscal problems and discuss changes in their goals. Women mayors were also more likely than their male counterparts to believe that women face gender-based obstacles in the exercise of leadership.
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This article analyzes the behavior and ideas of school committee members in Massachusetts and finds that women in this political context generally fail to substantively represent the interests of their own gender. While the literature on women political elites at the national and state levels suggests that increasing the number of women will increase the representation of women's political interests, the findings of this study indicate that increasing the numbers of women elected officials may not always lead to more representation for women. The study indicates the need for further research in different institutional contexts to determine why women's interests are represented in some governing bodies but not others.
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Using a unique national survey of school board candidates, this article examines the political orientations, policy viewpoints, and candidate platforms of female and male candidates. There are significant partisan and ideological differences between women and men candidates, with women being more politically liberal than men (even after additional controls are considered) and more likely to be Democrats. However, women who run for school board are more likely to be Republicans and are more likely to rate themselves as moderate-to-conservative ideologically. Women and men school board candidates also significantly differ on their views about many (but not all) education policies, especially controversial issues such as multiculturalism, the discussion of homosexuality in public classes, school prayer, and creationism-with women having less conservative views on these matters. Fewer differences emerge between women and men candidates with respect to campaign platforms. Moreover, their policy stances and their campaign platforms showcase women whose views on education policies are clearly moderate and mainstream.