Much attention has been devoted to the record number of women who competed in the interim years of 2018, the forces that led them to office, and their final odds. There are 235 women candidates for the US House and 22 women for the US Senate. Both surpass the previous records of 2016 and 2012, according to the Center for American Women and Politics.
But as Election Day begins and the country votes, the question of how many women will win will begin to focus on how those who do so will lead – and how big a year's influence could be in that many women ran for office.
For years researchers have been studying how men and women act as legislators. Studies have shown that women in Congress tend to be more responsive to questions from women, children and families; Others have suggested that they focus more on health care, citizenship and education, or less on defense spending or the death penalty.
Other research has shown that women seem to be more active as legislators and co-sponsor more bills. For example, a 2011 study by researchers at the University of Chicago found that women in Congress sponsor more federal projects into their home districts and sponsor and co-sponsor more legislation than their male counterparts.
A book published this year by professors at Georgia State University found similar results, arguing that women are more attuned to the needs of their constituents because they have more pressure to work for reelection, given the historically larger challenges they face with financial support, impartial media attention and challenging opponents
"We generally know about members of Congress that they are always trying to win the next re-election," said Jeffrey Lazarus, who co-authored the book: "Gender Vulnerability: How Women Work Worse to Stay in Office," Mit Amy Steigerwalt: "Are women trying harder than men to win the next election? It turns out they're doing it."
But as much as people disregard this legislator's focus, Lazarus said, which in practice means they could better represent their constituents. Their research, which spilled over into eight congresses, shows that female legislators have made more trips home, have more staff in their home district, sponsor more legislation on local issues, link more committees to local priorities, and more funding Collect local projects, Lazarus said in an interview.
"Our original title was," Working harder for the same wage. "Even when it comes to ideology, he said," We find that women are much more in tune with their district than men "when it comes to conservative or liberal philosophies.
Why could it be that female legislators tend to sponsor more laws? The premise of the book by Lazarus and Steigerwalt, said Michele Swers, a professor in Georgetown, who has studied the role of the legislator extensively, reads: "It is harder for women to be elected because their expectations are higher and therefore overcompensate , They do more generally. "
Lazarus, however, said that it exceeded the expectations of others. One reason may be that women have internalized the sociological belief that they have to work harder, which motivates them to do more, he said.
Another is the "objective, empirical finding that women actually find it harder to win re-elections," he said. "Combining both things to make women because there is no better word," cares more about their constituents. "
He acknowledges that this year is slightly different when female candidates get more visibility and support. However, it will take time to see if this changes the way female lawmakers work, especially as newcomers to Congress tend to focus the most on their constituents, he said.
Although the record number of running women does not lead to many new women's seats, the sensational attention that female candidates have received this year and the way they receive this attention can have a different impact, Christina Wolbrecht said. a professor from the government in Notre Dame, who examined the impact of female candidates on the political engagement of younger women.
"It does not matter if they win or not, it's important if they're visible, and especially if they're new," or to apply for new positions, said Wolbrecht, whose research has shown that teenage girls are more of a teenager The statement is intended to be politically active in years in which women politicians carry out widely visible campaigns.
She said that a dynamic that will be "fascinating" after the election this year is that not only will female candidates receive more attention, but that they will act in a way that challenges gender-specific expectations of female candidates by: quenching their children in campaign ads for those who "drive both the mother and the military," such as Amy McGrath, a Democratic House candidate in Kentucky, who has three children and is a retired Marine.
"One of the ironies is weird enough to point out how unusual it is, which has a positive effect on women," said Wolbrecht. "Regardless of what happens with regard to certain candidates, we could still expect the number of women who received attention to increase the interest of young women in politics."
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