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Valuing Diversity in Political Organizations: Gender and Token Minorities in the U.S. House of Representatives


  • Kristin Kanthak is Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Pittsburgh, 4605 Wesley W. Posvar Hall, Pittsburgh, PA 15260 ( George A. Krause is Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Pittsburgh, 4442 Wesley W. Posvar Hall, Pittsburgh, PA 15260 (

  • Earlier versions of this article were presented at the 2007 annual meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association and the 2007 EITM summer institute held at UCLA. We thank German Lodola and Maria Yang for able research assistance. We greatly benefited from the comments and suggestions of Kathy Bawn, Frank Beatrous, Damon Cann, Keith Dougherty, James Fowler, Michael Goodhart, Susan Hansen, Eric Heberlig, Robin Kolodny, Ken Meier, Becky Morton, Leslie Schwindt-Bayer, and participants at the EITM summer institute for their comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript. We are especially grateful to Amanda Driscoll for her input in the early stages of this project. Any errors that remain are the sole responsibility of the authors. Supplementary Technical Appendix is available at Data are available at


Political scientists are keenly interested in how diversity influences politics, yet we know little about how diverse groups of political actors interact. We advance a unified theory of colleague valuation to address this puzzle. The theory explains how minority group size affects how members of a political organization differentially value majority and minority group colleagues, predicting that the effect of preference divergence on individual-level colleague valuation is greatest when the minority group is smallest. We test this prediction using member-to-member leadership political action committee (PAC) contributions in the U.S. House of Representatives. The results obtain strong, albeit not uniform, support for the theory, demonstrating that the gender gap in colleague valuations declines as preference divergence increases in all but one instance. In contrast to conventional wisdom, the theory and evidence indicate that women serving in the U.S. House of Representatives receive less support from men colleagues as their ranks increase.