Gender and Patterns of Roll Call Voting in the U.S. Senate

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Previous studies of gender and representation at the state legislative level and in the U.S. House of Representatives have shown that women tend to be more liberal than their male colleagues and are more likely to support women’s issues. Because of the limited presence of women in the body over the years, there is scant empirical evidence to confirm whether this pattern is present in the U.S. Senate. Sound theoretical basis indicates that the institutional rules of the Senate, the Senate’s individualistic culture, the Senate’s six-year election timetable, and the national profile of U.S. senators may create conditions that allow gender differences in roll call voting to be more easily detected than is possible in more rigidly structured institutions such as the U.S. House. This study employs a longitudinal design that pools roll call voting data from the 103rd Congress through the 110th Congress to determine whether female senators compile substantively different policy records than their male colleagues. The results indicate that gender does systematically influence roll call voting patterns in the Senate. However, it is largely a function of female Republicans voting in a less conservative fashion than male Republicans on the basic left-right policy space and on a smaller set of issues of importance to women.

Original Citation

Frederick, B. (2010). Gender and Patterns of Roll Call Voting in the U.S. Senate. Congress and the Presidency, 37, 103-124. https://doi.org/10.1080/07343460903390711