Term limits and tokenism : increasing female representation in state legislatures
Thesis (M.P.P.)--Georgetown University, 2011.; Includes bibliographical references.; Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format. This paper examines the effect of term limits on the percentage of women serving in state legislatures. Using data from 1994 through 2011 from all 99 state legislative chambers, the linear regression models used in this study control for external factors including the characteristics of each legislature, statewide socioeconomic variables, and geographic regions.; Previous studies have not shown that term limits increase the number of women in the legislature. However, this paper allows the effect of term limits to differ between upper and lower chambers and conclusively demonstrates that term limits significantly increase the percentage of women serving in state senates. This finding is further bolstered by the use of a fixed effects model, which also shows that term limits are associated with a statistically significant increase in the percentage of women in upper legislative chambers. These results are important because upper chambers have fewer women on average than lower chambers. When women comprise fewer than 15 percent of a legislature, they are affected by the dynamics of tokenism, wherein underrepresented members adopt the behavioral norms of the majority group. When women exceed 15 percent of a legislature, however, they exhibit different legislative behavior than their male counterparts. The increase in women caused by term limits helps reduce tokenism in state senates and allows female legislators to legislate as they see fit.
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