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Gender Differences in Political Career Progression: Evidence from U.S. Elections

Author

Listed:
  • Brown, Ryan

    (University of Colorado Denver)

  • Mansour, Hani

    (University of Colorado Denver)

  • O'Connell, Stephen D.

    (Emory University)

  • Reeves, James

    (University of Michigan)

Abstract

This paper establishes the presence of a substantial gender gap in the relationship between state legislature service and the subsequent pursuit of a Congressional career. The empirical approach uses a sample of mixed-gender elections to compare the differential political career progression of women who closely win versus closely lose a state legislature election relative to an analogous impact for men who closely win or lose a state legislature election. We find that the effect of serving a state legislative term on the likelihood of running for a Congressional seat is twice as large for men as women, and its effect on winning a Congressional race is five times larger for men than women. These gaps emerge early in legislators' careers, widen over time, and are seen alongside a higher propensity for female state legislators to recontest state legislature seats. This gender gap in advancing to Congress among state legislators is not generated by gender differences in previously accumulated political experience, political party affiliation, or constituency characteristics. After investigating several explanations, we conclude that the gender gap in political career progression is consistent with the existence of a glass ceiling in politics.

Suggested Citation

  • Brown, Ryan & Mansour, Hani & O'Connell, Stephen D. & Reeves, James, 2019. "Gender Differences in Political Career Progression: Evidence from U.S. Elections," IZA Discussion Papers 12569, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp12569
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Heather Sarsons, 2015. "Recognition for Group Work," Working Paper 254946, Harvard University OpenScholar.
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    5. Nikolay Angelov & Per Johansson & Erica Lindahl, 2016. "Parenthood and the Gender Gap in Pay," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(3), pages 545-579.
    6. Brown, Ryan & Mansour, Hani & O'Connell, Stephen D., 2018. "Closing the Gender Gap in Leadership Positions: Can Expanding the Pipeline Increase Parity?," IZA Discussion Papers 11263, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Kalsi, Priti, 2017. "Seeing is believing- can increasing the number of female leaders reduce sex selection in rural India?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 1-18.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    elections; discrimination; politicians; gender gap;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing

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