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The XX Effect: Partisanship and Bipartisanship in Women of the U.S. Senate

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Congress has grown increasingly partisan since the 1970's, with the most extreme levels of partisanship occurring in the last few years. The media has also reflected on the loss of

Congress has grown increasingly partisan since the 1970's, with the most extreme levels of partisanship occurring in the last few years. The media has also reflected on the loss of bipartisanship in Congress. However, the media often cites women as one of the last groups in the Senate willing to cross party lines. I analyze party unity scores from 1993-2013 to see if women senators are less partisan than their male counterparts, and if Democratic women senators are more or less partisan than Republican women senators. From these results, I find that Republican female senators are less partisan than Republican male senators and Democratic senators of either gender. I also find Democratic female senators are more partisan than Republican female senators, and just as partisan or more partisan than Democratic male senators. However, when analyzed through co-sponsorship data from 2009-2015, women senators are seen as more bipartisan than men. Finally, through anecdotal research, I find that both Republican and Democratic men and women in the Senate believe women legislate differently than men and view them as more willing to find common ground. I also find Republican and Democratic women of the Senate have shared experiences that lead them to forge bipartisan relationships that could lead them to work in a more bipartisan way. An interview with former Senator Olympia Snowe reveals that she believes women are results oriented and willing to work together on a range of issues, and especially those that benefit women.

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  • 2015-05