Sex and the Statehouse: The Effects of Gender on Legislative Roll-Call Voting


  • *Direct correspondence to Robert E. Hogan, Department of Political Science, 240 Stubbs Hall, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803 〈〉. Funding support was provided by the Council on Research at Louisiana State University. I wish to thank Kate Bratton and David Sobek for advice concerning the analysis and the anonymous reviewers for comments on earlier drafts. All errors are my sole responsibility. The data used here are available on request.


Objective. This analysis examines whether differences exist between women and men state legislators in their roll-call voting behavior involving matters of economic and regulatory policy.

Methods. Using interest group rating scores, I examine the voting behavior of representatives in the lower houses of 28 states in legislative sessions from 1995 to 2000. By controlling for a host of variables related to legislators (political party, years of service, etc.) and their districts (average income, level of education, urbanization, etc.), I am able to isolate the independent effect of gender on roll-call voting.

Results. The findings demonstrate that among Democratic legislators women are less conservative than men, but among Republican lawmakers women are slightly more conservative than men. Additional analyses show that many factors that influence legislative voting by women and men are similar; however, political party has a more prominent effect among women.

Conclusion. Although factors such as political party and some constituency characteristics exert a much stronger influence than gender, women and men legislators differ in their roll-call voting even when controls for a wide assortment of individual- and district-level conditions are taken into account.