Vote for the Woman Because She’s a Woman

BY CAITLIN MOSCATELLO 

7:21 AM EDT

In February, Nevada became the first state in the country with a female-majority legislature. By June, with the help of the state’s Democratic governor, there were stronger laws ensuring equal pay for women, tougher penalties for domestic violence, better protection for sexual-assault survivors, more money for family-planning services, an end to a requirement that forced doctors to ask women their marital status before performing an abortion and an increased minimum wage. If anyone needed proof that having more female lawmakers benefits women, Nevada certainly makes a compelling case.

And yet female voters have often rejected the idea that women should vote with gender in mind. In 2016, Nancy Pelosi told Politico podcasters, “I don’t think that any woman should be asked to vote for someone because she’s a woman.” Of course it would be ridiculous to suggest that someone hop party lines to vote along gender ones, or support a candidate who fails to prioritize what she sees as a key issue. But in primaries where contenders have similar ideologies, there’s a strong argument to be made for backing a woman.

In their book Gendered Vulnerability: How Women Work Harder to Stay in Office, political scientists Jeffrey Lazarus and Amy Steigerwalt found that women in Congress are generally more effective than their male colleagues. They point to the fact that Congresswomen tend to have more staff in their district offices, serve on committees for issues that are of most interest to their constituents and are more likely to co-sponsor legislation that helps their voters. Separate research shows that female lawmakers bring more federal money back to their districts.

Women are more likely to run for elective office for the right reasons too. In her book Women Transforming Congress, political science professor Cindy Simon Rosenthal describes surveying lawmakers about why they got into politics. Most male legislators said it was something they’d always wanted to do. Female legislators, on the other hand, said they hoped to create social change and become more involved in their communities. In many instances, men run for office to be something while women run to do something. Read more at Time. 

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