Do female politicians empower women to vote or run for office? A regression discontinuity approach
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.electstud.2013.10.002
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.