Women's Worth: Evaluating the Effects of the Gender Wage Gap on the Success of Female Candidates for the US House of Representatives
McKinney, Hannah Louise
Morrison, Donna R
Gender-based economic inequality in the United States is insidious; its far-reaching implications impact community structure, family stability, and the nation’s economic future. While some effects are widely known, there is limited research on how large gender wage gaps influence voting patterns, representation, and gender parity in national political leadership. This study attempts to fill the gap in existing literature, assessing the extent to which the gender wage gap influences election outcomes of female candidates for the House of Representatives. Using demographic data and a constructed gender wage ratio key variable for congressional districts in six election years (2006-2016), this study explores two related inquiries. The first is whether the wage gap influences the likelihood of a woman running in a congressional election, and the second is whether the wage gap influences the likelihood of a woman winning a congressional election. The findings show no independent effect of the gender wage gap on the likelihood of female participation in House races. However, the study’s results demonstrate a strong correlation between the success of female candidates running for Congress and the magnitude of the wage gap. In districts where the wage gap is small (wherein women and men have relatively equal earnings), women are more than twice as likely to win their races than in districts that have an average wage gap. Even after controlling for a suite of demographic indicators, this relationship remains statistically significantly distinct from zero. If we continue to push for gender equality in wages, benefits, workplace opportunities, and political representation, our country will become more economically vibrant and representationally equitable.
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