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(Re)presenting Women: Retooling Women’s Substantive Representation
Unformatted Document Text:  Christina Xydias p.9 typically find in favor of women legislators’ impact and distinctiveness. For example, Saint-Germain’s (1989) study of bills in the Arizona state legislature 1969-1986 concludes that women legislators distinctively influence policy. Saint-Germain analyzes 1) the initiation of public policy proposals and 2) the enactment of those proposals, and she identifies a gendered difference in both content of proposals as well as rates of those proposals’ enactment. Women, according to Saint-Germain, tend to initiate policy proposals that address women’s interests more often than men. By contrast, Reingold’s (2000) study of Arizona and California state legislatures de-emphasizes gendered differences. Reingold (2000) even notes that, while she observes gendered attitudes in legislative behavior, the differences among women and among men may ultimately be more significant than the differences between women and men. Studies of impact outside the American context have typically argued that women do have legislative agendas that are distinct from men. Dahlerup (1988), for example, has done compelling studies of women’s distinctive contributions to legislation in Scandinavia. Celis (2006) finds that women members of the Belgian parliament do appear to intervene in budgetary debates on women’s behalf at a higher rate than men do. Lovenduski and Norris (2003) analyze survey responses from approximately 1000 national politicians in Britain (both candidates and members of Parliament), testing specifically for – and claiming to find – gendered differences in values and attitudes that would underpin women representatives’ distinctiveness (e.g., the surveys ask questions about policy priorities). Like Reingold (1992, 2000), Lovenduski and Norris argue that these attitudes are necessary, though not sufficient, for women to champion women’s interests in the legislature. Similarly, Broughton and Zetlin (1996) conclude, based upon interviews with Australian Labor Party women parliamentarians from Queensland, that women do perceive their public office as a means to pursue women’s interests. While these studies test whether female and male legislators have different attitudes towards their jobs, this is ultimately a descriptive question, because they do not investigate what about being female or male (apparently) explains these differences. Do legislators’ gendered experiences shape these values and attitudes? Alternatively, are these values and attitudes that are intrinsic to being female or male? One of the most compelling corroborations of the “special knowledge” hypothesis is found in a study of the U.K. Childs and Withey (2004) cleverly seeks evidence of gendered policy-making in the highly structured British House of Commons by studying Early Day Motions, and she finds that women take advantage of this more flexible environment to express preferences that distinctly address women’s interests. Notably, Early Day Motions by women MPs brought attention to the Value Added Tax that had been levied on women’s sanitary products; it had heretofore not occurred to male MPs that such products were in fact necessary (and therefore deserving of non-VAT status). This act of substantive representation is an example of representation that might derive exclusively from the experience of women (“special knowledge”). Studies of women’s impact that address critical mass and tokenism have yielded a patchwork of conclusions, as well. Critical mass and tokenism arguments derive from Rosabeth Kanter’s (1977) finding that women employees in industry, when they are in the minority in their workplace, suppress their gendered differences. Looking at tokenism in the political context, Thomas (1991, 1994) and Saint-Germain (1989) study various

Authors: Xydias, Christina.
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Christina Xydias
p.9
typically find in favor of women legislators’ impact and distinctiveness. For example,
Saint-Germain’s (1989) study of bills in the Arizona state legislature 1969-1986
concludes that women legislators distinctively influence policy. Saint-Germain analyzes
1) the initiation of public policy proposals and 2) the enactment of those proposals, and
she identifies a gendered difference in both content of proposals as well as rates of those
proposals’ enactment. Women, according to Saint-Germain, tend to initiate policy
proposals that address women’s interests more often than men. By contrast, Reingold’s
(2000) study of Arizona and California state legislatures de-emphasizes gendered
differences. Reingold (2000) even notes that, while she observes gendered attitudes in
legislative behavior, the differences among women and among men may ultimately be
more significant than the differences between women and men.
Studies of impact outside the American context have typically argued that women
do have legislative agendas that are distinct from men. Dahlerup (1988), for example, has
done compelling studies of women’s distinctive contributions to legislation in
Scandinavia. Celis (2006) finds that women members of the Belgian parliament do
appear to intervene in budgetary debates on women’s behalf at a higher rate than men do.
Lovenduski and Norris (2003) analyze survey responses from approximately 1000
national politicians in Britain (both candidates and members of Parliament), testing
specifically for – and claiming to find – gendered differences in values and attitudes that
would underpin women representatives’ distinctiveness (e.g., the surveys ask questions
about policy priorities). Like Reingold (1992, 2000), Lovenduski and Norris argue that
these attitudes are necessary, though not sufficient, for women to champion women’s
interests in the legislature. Similarly, Broughton and Zetlin (1996) conclude, based upon
interviews with Australian Labor Party women parliamentarians from Queensland, that
women do perceive their public office as a means to pursue women’s interests. While
these studies test whether female and male legislators have different attitudes towards
their jobs, this is ultimately a descriptive question, because they do not investigate what
about being female or male (apparently) explains these differences. Do legislators’
gendered experiences shape these values and attitudes? Alternatively, are these values
and attitudes that are intrinsic to being female or male?
One of the most compelling corroborations of the “special knowledge” hypothesis
is found in a study of the U.K. Childs and Withey (2004) cleverly seeks evidence of
gendered policy-making in the highly structured British House of Commons by studying
Early Day Motions, and she finds that women take advantage of this more flexible
environment to express preferences that distinctly address women’s interests. Notably,
Early Day Motions by women MPs brought attention to the Value Added Tax that had
been levied on women’s sanitary products; it had heretofore not occurred to male MPs
that such products were in fact necessary (and therefore deserving of non-VAT status).
This act of substantive representation is an example of representation that might derive
exclusively from the experience of women (“special knowledge”).
Studies of women’s impact that address critical mass and tokenism have yielded a
patchwork of conclusions, as well. Critical mass and tokenism arguments derive from
Rosabeth Kanter’s (1977) finding that women employees in industry, when they are in
the minority in their workplace, suppress their gendered differences. Looking at tokenism
in the political context, Thomas (1991, 1994) and Saint-Germain (1989) study various


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