How Electing More Women Could Change Congress

November 3rd 2016

Kyle Jaeger

Americans, by and large, have been unsatisfied with the job Congress has done over the past decade. That's largely due to the perception that our federal representatives are unwilling to cooperate and end gridlock, which has restricted the government's ability to pass laws.

US Congress

One solution to the problem? Elect more women.

After all, female lawmakers in the Senate and House have had greater success at getting their laws enacted than their male counterparts, according to this 2015 analysis of the past four congressional sessions.

"[W]omen in Congress have seen positive outcomes as a result of their bipartisan efforts," The Huffington Post reported. "Since the 111th Congress, female senators moved 4.88 bills out of committee and had 2.31 bills enacted on average, compared to the 3.24 bills their male colleagues brought out of committee and 1.57 bills enacted."

Why are female lawmakers better at turning bills into laws?


As Vox.com notes, researchers have a few theories about this, but it all seems to come down to two factors: solidarity and compromise. As Bloomberg's Emily Greenhouse reported in 2015, compared to their male peers, women in Congress are more likely to cosponsor bills with other women and members of the opposite party.

Ironically, women's under-representation in legislative bodies may help explain why they are more productive; because they are outnumbered, they're forced to cooperate with each other. But Greenhouse has another theory:

Yes, it could be the need for banding-togetherness, against an overwhelming male majority, that makes women masters of deals. It could also be something about women, or how women are conditioned... They are less prone to egregious risk-taking, and overconfidence."

This group also tends to be more productive than male lawmakers, which could also contribute to their legislative success. Female representatives have more at-bats, introducing an average of 25 more bills in the Senate and two more bills in the House than men, according to the study.

[h/t Vox]