Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Woman's Place

When Are Women More Effective Lawmakers Than Men?

Craig Volden, Alan Wiseman & Dana Wittmer
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Previous scholarship has demonstrated that female lawmakers differ from their male counterparts by engaging more fully in consensus-building activities. We argue that this behavioral difference does not serve women equally well in all institutional settings. Contentious and partisan activities of male lawmakers may help them outperform women when in a polarized majority party. However, in the minority party, while men may choose to obstruct and delay, women continue to strive to build coalitions and bring about new policies. We find strong evidence that minority party women in the U.S. House of Representatives are better able to keep their sponsored bills alive through later stages of the legislative process than are minority party men, across the 93rd–110th Congresses (1973–2008). The opposite is true for majority party women, however, who counterbalance this lack of later success by introducing more legislation. Moreover, while the legislative style of minority party women has served them well consistently across the past four decades, majority party women have become less effective as Congress has become more polarized.


Successful Female Leaders Empower Women's Behavior in Leadership Tasks

Ioana Latu et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Women are less likely than men to be associated with leadership, and the awareness of this stereotype may undermine women's performance in leadership tasks. One way to circumvent this stereotype threat is to expose women to highly successful female role models. Although such exposures are known to decrease women's leadership aspirations and self-evaluations, it is currently unknown what the effects of role models are on actual behavior during a challenging leadership task. We investigated whether highly successful female role models empower women's behavior in a leadership task. In a virtual reality environment, 149 male and female students gave a public speech, while being subtly exposed to either a picture of Hillary Clinton, Angela Merkel, Bill Clinton, or no picture. We recorded the length of speeches as an objective measure of empowered behavior in a stressful leadership task. Perceived speech quality was also coded by independent raters. Women spoke less than men when a Bill Clinton picture or no picture was presented. This gender difference disappeared when a picture of Hillary Clinton or Angela Merkel was presented, with women showing a significant increase when exposed to a female role model compared to a male role model or no role models. Longer speaking times also translated into higher perceived speech quality for female participants. Empowered behavior also mediated the effects of female role models on women's self-evaluated performance. In sum, subtle exposures to highly successful female leaders inspired women's behavior and self-evaluations in stressful leadership tasks.

Nod to Kevin Lewis


Unknown said...

blibber-blabber != leadership

Clever experimental design is no substitute for rigorous analysis.

Pelsmin said...

Well, we see two nominees for this year's "Larry Summers Job Preservation Award." I tried to dig up a study that showed the opposite ("Estrogen hampers effective thinking, especially when Math is involved") but no-one's publishing reports like that. All you get is the parenthetical "while male lawmakers may outperform women when polarized," but good luck finding a study actually published to demonstrate a point like that.

Jeff said...

I still think the 19th Amendment was a tragic mistake.

Hasdrubal said...

"...expose women to highly successful female role models. Although such exposures are known to decrease women's leadership aspirations and self-evaluations..."

Well, that's interesting, I thought the problem with women in so many fields was the lack of role models? So, is this study saying that women are less likely to try when exposed to a female role model, when they do try, they try harder? I wonder what the net effect is?