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The Hinckley Journal of Politics

2017

Evidence for both the internal determinants and regional diffusion and O’Connor find token status facilitates active representation by models of state innovation, as both (1) internal political and helping “women representatives to secure committee assignments that economic characteristics of a state and (2) the number of previ- allow them to block [anti-choice] legislation” (1993, p. 102). Likewise, ously adopting neighboring states are found to influence [policy Crowley (2004) finds that “tokens make a policy difference indepeninnovation] … these two dominant explanations of state innova- dently and to a greater extent than when they are on the cusp of tion are in no sense inconsistent (p. 410). becoming non-tokens” (p. 109). Bratton (2002) emphasizes the potenStudying policymaking at the state level reveals the influence of neigh- tial power of token status: “Women in very homogenous settings do boring states’ policy agendas, which would be much more difficult to not react to their token status by minimizing gender differences in demonstrate at the national level. Eissler, Russell, and Jones (2014) agenda setting … women serving in legislatures with little gender maintain that the states provide a fruitful context for policy research, balance are actually more successful relative to men than their counand Koven and Mausloff (2002) confirm the enduring impact of state terparts in more equitable settings” (p. 121, emphasis in original). The political culture. This paper answers the call for more research on difference between Kanter’s predictions and evidence from state legstate-level policy innovation by testing whether women’s representation islatures is context: Kanter studied a private-sector corporation, where explains variance across states in policies supporting women and token women benefitted from conforming to corporate culture and families. The Center for American Progress graded all 50 states on fitting in. In contrast, female legislators interpret their difference as their policies to improve women’s wellbeing using 14 factors gauging essential to and even definitive of representation. Standing out in economic security, nine leadership measures, and 13 health policy politics benefits the female legislator in ways that the corporate ladder factors: “We ranked each state on all 36 factors and then arrived at climber does not enjoy: “Where representation is part of the job overall rankings in the categories of economics, leadership, and health description, the treatment of women as ‘representative of their category’ by taking the averages of how states ranked on the factors within these may encourage them to behave distinctly from men” (Bratton, 2005, categories” (Chu & Posner, 2013, p. 4). Economic security factors p. 103). include the overall wage gap between women and men as well as Research building upon the structural analyses of Thomas (1991), separate wage gaps by race and ethnicity, poverty rates overall and by Reingold (1992), and Berkman and O’Connor (1993) casts a wider net race and ethnicity, the presence of paid family leave and sick leave laws, and examines institutions and norms across state legislatures that not access to and spending on early childhood education, and the effects only affect the numbers of women in them, but also the factors underof a higher-than-federal minimum wage. Leadership factors not only lying the link between passive and active representation. Kathlene include women’s political representation, but also women’s under- (1994) examines transcripts from 12 randomly-selected committee representation in management positions outside the public sector: hearings, she finds evidence of backlash: “Women legislators, despite overall, and by race and ethnicity. Health care factors include rates of their numerical and positional gains, may be seriously disadvantaged coverage by race and ethnicity, the state’s position on Medicaid expan- in committee hearings and unable to participate equally in legislative sion, funding for reproductive services, and unconstitutional restric- committee hearings … the more women on a committee, the more tions on abortion, including the enactment of Targeted Regulation of silenced women became” (1994, p. 573). Swers (2001) likewise implores Abortion Provider (TRAP) laws. researchers to look beyond numbers of women and interrogate the Factors affecting women’s representation are of enduring importance contexts within which women serve. Cammisa and Reingold (2004) to researchers because women in legislatures affects legislation. Early reveal an inverse relationship between women’s advocacy and level of research relied on Rosabeth Moss Kanter’s (1977/1993) critical mass professionalization in state legislatures, which “created a more businessframework to predict the potential policy impact of electing women like working environment, one less reliant on male-dominated inforto state legislatures. For example, Thomas (1991) surveyed legislators mal networks” (p. 199). Informal networks create shadow structures in 12 states to determine whether male and female lawmakers cham- from which women are excluded (McGuire, 2002). Rosenthal (1997), pioned different causes and whether any differences existed in suc- however, takes a different approach to legislative professionalism: “In cessful passage of bills dealing with issues of women, children, and the more professionalized legislatures, committee chairs are less likely families. Kanter’s critical mass theory predicts female legislators would to articulate people-oriented motivations and less likely to include avoid bills on women’s-interest policy and would not have success others in committee management” (1997, p. 596). Arceneaux (2001) passing such legislation until their numbers exceeded 15 percent of incorporates state culture into his analysis of women’s representation total seats. Thomas confirms this prediction: “Women in states with in state legislatures and finds state culture (Elazar 1984, Miller 1991), the highest percentages of female representatives introduce and pass “affects the level of state legislative female representation independent more priority bills dealing with issues of women, children, and fami- of political culture and ideology” (p. 143). Poggione (2004) confirms lies than men in their states and more than their female counterparts that the link between passive and active representation goes through in low representation states” (1991, p. 958). Thomas also demonstrates context: “The policy impact of women legislators is mediated by legthe importance of women’s legislative caucuses to introduce and pass islative institutions and women’s positions within them” (p. 313). bills targeting women, children, and families, a result confirmed in Dodson (1997) investigates the gendered nature of representation subsequent research (Beckwith & Cowell-Meyers, 2007; Crowley, 2004; itself: Serving in elective office is a barrier for women with young Reingold, 1992). Berkman and O’Connor (1993) also refute Kanter’s children but not for men with young children. This has “consequences (1977/1993) prediction that too few women results in token status for descriptive representation, for it means that women will have fewer where heightened scrutiny would compel them to avoid championing years to serve, to build careers within the institution, to accumulate women’s issues. Examining abortion policy in several states, Berkman seniority … and perhaps most importantly to climb the political ladder

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Hinckley Journal 2017  

The Hinckley Journal of Politics is the only undergraduate-run journal of politics in the nation and strives to publish scholarly papers of...

Hinckley Journal 2017  

The Hinckley Journal of Politics is the only undergraduate-run journal of politics in the nation and strives to publish scholarly papers of...

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