Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley Previously Published Works bannerUC Berkeley

Do female politicians empower women to vote or run for office? A regression discontinuity approach


Persistent gender gaps in political officeholding and mass political participation jeopardize women's equal representation in government. This paper brings new evidence to the longstanding hypotheses that the presence of additional female candidates and officeholders helps address these gaps by empowering other women to vote or run for office themselves. With a regression discontinuity approach and data on 3813 US state legislative elections where a woman opposed a man, I find that the election of additional women in competitive US state legislative elections has no discernible causal effects on other women's political participation at the mass or elite levels. These estimates are precise enough to rule out even substantively small effects. These results stand in stark contrast to a number of findings from India, suggesting that although electing the first women in a society can have these empowering effects, remaining barriers to women's inclusion in American democracy go beyond what further increases in female officeholding can themselves erode. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View