Extensive research on gender and politics indicates that women legislators are more likely to serve on committees and sponsor bills related to so-called "women's issues."However, it remains unclear whether this empirical regularity is driven by district preferences, differences in legislator backgrounds, or because gendered political processes shape and constrain the choices available to women once they are elected. We introduce expansive new data on over 25,000 US state legislators and an empirical strategy to causally isolate the different channels that might explain these gendered differences in legislator behavior. After accounting for district preferences with a difference-in-differences design and for candidate backgrounds via campaign fundraising data, we find that women are still more likely to serve on women's issues committees, although the gender gap in bill sponsorship decreases. These results shed new light on the mechanisms that lead men and women to focus on different policy areas as legislators.
- American politics
- gender and politics
- legislative politics
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Political Science and International Relations