Decomposing the source of the gender gap in legislative committee service: Evidence from US states

Julia Payson, Alexander Fouirnaies, Andrew B. Hall

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    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.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)191-197
    Number of pages7
    JournalPolitical Science Research and Methods
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Jan 15 2023


    • American politics
    • econometrics
    • gender and politics
    • legislative politics

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Political Science and International Relations


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