Different policies, different voices: gender and legislative coordination in the United States Congress

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As critical mass theorists have argued, the number of female legislators is important in the enactment of gender-status laws. Female legislators share strong beliefs on women's rights and have easily coordinated their legislative activities on gender issues. In addition, their strong coordination and consequent political influence have often allowed them to form a legislative majority by influencing male legislators. Gender policies, however, are frequently associated with non-gender policy dimensions on which female legislators tend to have different ideas. Thus, when a gender issue is interpreted in terms of a conspicuous non-gender policy dimension, critical mass theory may not work properly; the heterogeneity of female legislators regarding non-gender policy dimensions can weaken their legislative coordination, thereby hampering gender-status lawmaking. This article examines these propositions by reviewing the legislative histories of violence against women and the legality of abortion in the United States.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)659-675
Number of pages17
JournalPolicy Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

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© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Critical mass theory
  • abortion
  • legislative coordination
  • policy dimension
  • violence against women


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