Under the Microscope: Gender and Accountability in the US Congress


Kaslovsky J, Rogowski JC. Under the Microscope: Gender and Accountability in the US Congress. American Political Science Review. 2021.


We study how officeholder gender affects issue accountability and examine whether constituents evaluate women and men legislators differently on the basis of their policy records. Data from 2008 through 2018 show that constituents’ approval ratings and vote choices in US House elections are more responsive to the policy records of women legislators than of men legislators. These patterns are concentrated among politically aware constituents, but we find no evidence that the results are driven disproportionately by either women or men constituents or by issues that are gendered in stereotypical ways. Additional analyses suggest that while constituents penalize women and men legislators at similar rates for policy incongruence, women legislators are rewarded more than men as they are increasingly aligned with their constituents. Our results show that accountability standards are applied differently across legislator gender and suggest a link between the quality of policy representation and the gender composition of American legislatures.

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