What is the impact of the senators’ gender on the formulation of policy by the senate in the United States?………………
Frederick (2011) observes that little research has been done on the impact of the senators’ gender on the formulation of policy by the senate in the United States. The issue was attracting little research interest because of the small number of female senators. However, such an analysis is now viable owing to the increased number of female senators. The research therefore is based on several recent congresses and examines the role played by gender in the roll call voting behavior of senators. The study considers turnover in the senate in the same constituency and examines the influence of the party and gender of the senator. The results of the study indicate that both male and female senators from the same state have similar voting trends based on their party affiliation but differ when issues affecting women are under consideration. Female senators support such issues more compared to their male colleagues.
Critique of the literature review
The literature review looks into the influence of female senators on the policies that directly affect women in general. The research uses the roll call voting records to examine the differences between the male and female senators on the influence they have on the policies. Frederick (2011) brings out a balanced view by admitting that only a portion of the research could conclude the existence of the differences. There is the use of varied sources in making conclusions about an issue which is quite satisfactory. For example, Frederick (2011) uses twelve sources to come to the conclusion that women senators are more liberal in every policy domain compared to their male colleagues.
Frederick (2011) however does not explore the literature deeply enough and instead is quick to conclude that limitations, both institutional and methodological, do exist as to the extent of valuable information that can be obtained about the study carried out. However, the ideas are well balanced again when there is acknowledgement of the fact that many women senators come from already liberal states and therefore are predisposed to liberalism. There is the acknowledgement that the institutional design of the House of Representatives is not suitable for detecting gender biased roll call voting patterns yet there is no accompanying explanation of what makes the house unsuitable.
Some of the literature used in the study is older than five years, with some being as old as fifteen years. In some cases, the writer used sources that were out of context. Whereas the literature review approaches the topic from a relatively neutral point, it tends to be based on sources that depict women senators as being biased towards policies that affect women hence presenting views that are not well balanced.
Critique of the methods/research design
The participants in the study, the women legislators, are not a representative of the whole women population of legislators and the study makes little effort to justify why the study was conducted based on such. The methodology considers a small number of women representatives in coming up with the conclusion that the difference observed in the voting records for female and male legislators is simply as a result of women being elected in more liberal districts and therefore their voting trends are as a result of their liberal dispositions. The method used in the analysis has also been faulted as giving limited information about the relationship between roll call voting and gender. While the research reports to have employed high utility measures in estimating the dimension of ideology in the congress, it uses unsuitable measures in establishing the voting pattern of both men and women on matters that are of particular interest to women. Frederick (2011) insists that the house of representatives is highly polarized and data for the study cannot be a good setting for the study on the gender influence on roll call voting. Even if the senate is proposed as more suitable, there is no substantial support as to why senate is more suitable.
Critique of the results section
The results are well represented reflecting the characteristics of the sample obtained between the 101st to 110th congresses. There is however no metric used to indicate the support that women issues received in the congress from both men and women representatives. The participation rates of the legislators are also omitted which is a weakness that would be reflected in the discussion of the results. In representing the results, the use of tables and graphical figures would have been suitable for the reader to establish relationships with more ease than getting the relationships from the text explanations.
Critique of the discussion section
The discussion of the results is in the correct context of the findings. However, it fails to emphasize the discussions in the literature review section which were based on the roll call voting patterns on policies relating to women. Instead, the discussion mainly covers the patterns in voting where a legislator is replaced by another of a different gender or from a different party.
The study had strengths mainly based on the fact that it was based of a wide range of literature on the subject. This is evident especially in the literature review section. The major weakness of the study is that it despite faulting the use of the congress for the study and showing a preference for the senate as more suitable, it majorly relies on data obtained from studies based on the congress. The study is however a suitable reference for other studies that seeks to establish the roll call voting patterns as affected by the gender of legislators in the congress.
Frederick, B. (2011). Gender Turnover and Roll Call Voting in the US Senate. Journal of Women, Politics & Policy, 32:3, 193-210
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