In our interest : an analysis of women's congressional roll call cohesion and voting dimensions
Akins, Frances Elizabeth
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This study examines patterns of women’s roll call voting in the U.S. House from the 97 th to the 104 th Congresses in order to test claims that women’s voting patterns are converging toward those of men over time. Focusing on voting cohesion, male and female legislators are compared using Rice Cohesion Scores, factor analysis, ANOVA, and regression analysis. Female legislators are shown to be more cohesive than male legislators during this period. Both Republican and Democratic women are shown to be more cohesive in areas of Health and Social Programs and the Use of Force and Violence than in other areas, while Democratic women are shown to be only somewhat less cohesive in other areas as well.|There is no evidence that female patterns of cohesion, relative to those of men, are declining over time. Among Democrats, a decline in relative female cohesion in the early- and mid-1980s is shown to be the results of increased partisanship among males, rather than any long-term, substantial decline of female cohesion. There is also evidence shown among Democrats in the latter part of the study that female cohesion may be increasing. The impact of gender on voting cohesion, relative to other influences of Congressional roll call voting, is tested directly and found to be significant in the first two and last two Congresses in under study. This finding corroborates that gender is not declining as a determinant of women’s roll call cohesion in the U.S. House.|The nature of female cohesion is examined in depth and is found to have evolved during the period under study. As generational influences, such as age and tenure declined, racial influences, such as percent of minorities in the district and race of legislator increased.|A large decline in relative female cohesion is shown to have occurred during the 104 th Congress. It is argued that this decline resulted from increased party unity among Republican women in response to stronger party cues. Conclusions are that, while female cohesion is not in a long-term downward decline, it is subject to partisan conditions and the changing nature of the female contingent.