ISPS Democracy Series: Safe seats and female (under)representation in the U.S. Congress

Event time: 
Tuesday, March 30, 2021 - 7:00pm to 8:15pm
Online () See map
Event description: 


Frances McCall Rosenbluth and Ian Shapiro will present new work (co-authored by Akhil Rajan, Alex Kustov, and Maikol Cerda), with discussion of the research by Frances Lee (Princeton) and Jonathan Rodden (Stanford).

Abstract: Female representation has increased in the U.S. Congress in recent elections, but mostly among Democrats. We argue that one driver of women’s relative underrepresentation among the Republicans is the comparatively larger number of safe Republication seats. Because safe seats encourage ideological extremism and because women are stereotyped as more liberal than men, we expect women candidates to outperform men in safer Democratic seats but to underperform men in safer Republican seats (relative to more competitive seats). Based on a new dataset linking all candidates for the U.S. House and their districts’ partisan composition, we show that women entrants win elections in safer Republican (Democratic) seats at lower (higher) rates than men, which is driven by their lower (higher) success in primaries. Strikingly, our descriptive results suggest a female Republican candidate has a better chance of winning in a competitive seat than in a safe seat.

• Frances McCall Rosenbluth, Damon Wells Professor of Political Science, Yale
• Ian Shapiro, Sterling Professor of Political Science, Yale

• Frances Lee, Professor of Politics and Public Affairs and Associate Chair, Department of Politics, Princeton University
• Jonathan Rodden, Professor of Political Science, Stanford University

The panel will be moderated by Alan Gerber, the Charles C. & Dorathea S. Dilley Professor of Political Science, Director of ISPS, and Dean of the FAS Social Science Division.

Please register on Zoom:

This is a non-partisan event that is free and open to the general public.
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Sponsored by the Institution for Social and Policy Studies (ISPS) and the Center for the Study of American Politics (CSAP).

Open to: 
General Public