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The Difference Women Make

The Policy Impact of Women in Congress

What if there were more women in Congress? Providing the first comprehensive study of the policy activity of male and female legislators at the federal level, Michele L. Swers persuasively demonstrates that, even though representatives often vote a party line, their gender is politically significant and does indeed influence policy making.

Swers combines quantitative analyses of bills with interviews with legislators and their staff to compare legislative activity on women’s issues by male and female members of the House of Representatives during the 103rd (1993-94) and 104th (1995-96) Congresses. Tracking representatives’ commitment to women’s issues throughout the legislative process, from the introduction of bills through committee consideration to final floor votes, Swers examines how the prevailing political context and members’ positions within Congress affect whether and how aggressively they pursue women’s issues.

Anyone studying congressional behavior, the role of women, or the representation of social identities in Congress will benefit from Swers’s balanced and nuanced analysis.

201 pages | 10 line drawings, 22 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2002

Political Science: American Government and Politics

Women's Studies

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

1. Does Electing Women Have a Policy Impact?
2. Women, the Political Parties, and the Gender Gap
3. Bill Sponsorship: Placing Women’s Issues on the National Agenda
4. Cosponsorship: Registering Support for Women’s Issues
5. Amendments in Committees: Working behind the Scenes for Women’s Issues
6. Fighting for Women’s Issues on the Floor
7. Roll-Call Voting: Taking a Public Position on Women’s Issues
8. Conclusion: Does Electing Women Matter? The Impact on Policy
Development and Democracy

Appendix A: Identifying Committees and Subcommittees
That Considered Women’s Issue Bills
Appendix B: Women’s Issue Bills Considered in Committee
Markup and/or on the Floor


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