Women have historically participated in political activities such as speaking at public meetings and contributing to candidates at lower rates than men. One explanation for this phenomenon is women’s underrepresentation in political institutions, which compromises their sense of political efficacy. In support of this explanation, as the number of women in government has increased, gender gaps in participation have narrowed in most industrialised democracies. However, the United States lags behind much of the western world in terms of both women’s representation and political participation. We, thus, examine whether contextual factors, in this case so-called ‘women-friendly districts’, improve American women’s political participation [Palmer, Barbara and Dennis Simon. 2008. Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Women and Congressional Elections. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge]. We find that in women-friendly districts, American women’s political participation is statistically indistinguishable from men’s participation. However, outside of these districts, women generally demonstrate lower levels of political activity than men. Counterintuitively, however, these gains are not the result of increasing female participation, but rather decreasing male engagement.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sociology and Political Science