Gendered Vulnerability

How Women Work Harder to Stay in Office
Jeffrey Lazarus and Amy Steigerwalt
Analysis-driven study of female candidates and how they represent their constituents better than their male colleagues


Gendered Vulnerability examines the factors that make women politicians more electorally vulnerable than their male counterparts. For instance, female candidates get less and lower quality coverage from the media; they face more and better quality political opponents; and they receive less support from their political parties. Beyond these purely electoral factors, women face persistent gender biases throughout society, which makes it more difficult for them to succeed and can also lead them to doubt their abilities and qualifications. These factors combine to convince women that they must work harder to win elections—a phenomenon that Jeffrey Lazarus and Amy Steigerwalt term “gendered vulnerability.” Since women feel constant pressure to make sure they can win reelection, they devote more of their time and energy to winning their constituents’ favor. For example, women secure more federal spending for their districts and states than men do; women devote more time and energy to constituent services; women introduce more bills and resolutions; and women’s policy positions are more responsive to what their voters want. Lazarus and Steigerwalt examine a dozen different facets of legislative behavior, and find that across them all, female members simply do a better job of representing their constituents than male members.

“Jeffrey Lazarus and Amy Steigerwalt provide compelling evidence that women in Congress do a better job than men of representing not only women, but also all their constituents. The authors’ findings that women members outpace men in their attentiveness to constituents on a variety of measures make this book a valuable addition to the literatures on legislative behavior and women and politics. Additionally, their “gendered vulnerability” interpretation offers a provocative challenge to scholars who contend that gender differences in perspectives are critical to explaining gender differences in legislative performance.”
—Susan J. Carroll, Rutgers University

“Drawing on an incredible array of evidence, Jeffrey Lazarus and Amy Steigerwalt provide impressive new evidence that female legislators are better at their jobs than their male counterparts and important new theoretical reasoning that explains why this difference emerges. This book will be of broad interest to scholars of American politics, particularly those interested in how biases affect incentives and behavior.”
—Justin Grimmer, Stanford University

Jeffrey Lazarus is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Georgia State University. Amy Steigerwalt is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Georgia State University.

Praise / Awards

  • "This book is a valuable addition to the literature on women and politics, as much of that literature focuses more on getting elected and less on what women do once they are elected." 
    --Choice Reviews

Look Inside

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 236pp.
  • 32 tables, 28 charts, 1 B&W photograph.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2018
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-13071-9

Add to Cart
  • $70.00 U.S.

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  • gender; gender studies; women; women in politics; legislative behavior; Congress; electoral studies; elections; constituent relations


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