The authors analyze gender differences in members' speech participation on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. Speeches increase members' visibility and voice in the legislative process, providing opportunities for members to highlight their policy knowledge, constituents' concerns, and partisan commitments. The authors hypothesize that women's underrepresentation, coupled with the related challenges that female legislators face in a predominantly male institution, motivates congresswomen of both parties to speak at greater rates than congressmen. Analyzing over ten thousand floor speeches during the 103rd and 109th Congresses, the authors find strong support for their hypothesis, demonstrating that congresswomen's participation in legislative debate increases their visibility and enhances women's substantive representation.
- legislative studies