Quarterly Journal of Political Science > Vol 17 > Issue 3

How Does the Rising Number of Women in the U.S. Congress Change Deliberation? Evidence from House Committee Hearings

Pamela Ban, Department of Political Science, University of California, USA, pmban@ucsd.edu , Justin Grimmer, Department of Political Science, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA and Hoover Institution, USA, jgrimmer@stanford.edu , Jaclyn Kaslovsky, Department of Political Science, Rice University, USA, jk83@rice.edu , Emily West, Department of Political Science, University of Pittsburgh, USA, eawest@pitt.edu
 
Suggested Citation
Pamela Ban, Justin Grimmer, Jaclyn Kaslovsky and Emily West (2022), "How Does the Rising Number of Women in the U.S. Congress Change Deliberation? Evidence from House Committee Hearings", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 17: No. 3. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00020112

Forthcoming: 31 Jul 2022
© 2022 P. Ban et al.
 
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Keywords
Legislative processeswomen in politics
 

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In this article:
Introduction 
How Does Increasing the Number of Women Affect Group-Dynamics within a Committee? 
Data 
The Effect of Increasing Proportions of Women on Participation 
Increasing the Number of Women Affects Discussion Dynamics 
Conclusion 
References 

Abstract

The rising number of women in Congress changes deliberation. Using committee hearing transcripts from 1995 to 2017, we analyze how the gender composition of committees affects group dynamics in committee hearings. While we find limited evidence that increasing proportions of women affects women's participation, we find that discussion norms within committees change significantly in the presence of more women. Namely, interruptions decrease when there are more women on the committee; with higher proportions of women, men are less likely to interrupt others. Furthermore, committee members are more likely to engage and stay on the same topics in the presence of more women, suggesting a shift in norms toward more in-depth exchange. Overall, our results show that increasing the proportion of women changes discussion dynamics within Congress by shifting norms away from interruptions and one-sided talk in committees, thereby shifting group norms that govern decision-making during an important policy-making stage.

DOI:10.1561/100.00020112