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Sex Differences in Constituent Engagement


  • *Direct correspondence to Rebekah Herrick, Department of Political Science, 218 S. Murray, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74104 〈〉. The data used for this article are available at 〈〉 or by contacting the author. I thank the OSU Political Science Department and APSA (small grant program) for helping fund this project. I also thank Jada Butler, Will Stewart, and Ben Pryor for their help in collecting data, and Sam Fisher, Lori Franklin, Emily Herrick, Jeanette Mandez, and Tracy Osborn for their advice.


Objectives. This article updates and expands the research on sex differences in legislators' relationships with constituents.

Methods. A 2008 survey of legislators from 26 states is used to collect data on constituent-initiated contact, hours legislators spend keeping in touch with constituents or conducting casework, legislators' use of constituent information, and accuracy of legislators' perceptions of constituents.

Results. The findings suggest that female legislators do not differ from male legislators in the time they spend contacting constituents or doing casework or in the accuracy of their perceptions of constituents. However, female legislators received more contact from constituents, and were more likely to attend meetings and use constituent-derived information.

Conclusion. Although sex has small effects on the amount of contact legislators have with constituents, it does affect the way legislators contact their constituents. This is likely because engagement has become an important role for legislators. Thus, while legislators all have to be actively engaged, they have some flexibility in how they engage with constituents.