22 November 2013

Women in Government

Welcome back. What did you think of the shutdown and near default? Even though I was a non-essential, caught in the 1995-96 shutdown, I still don’t remember that shutdown being so, well, stupid.

This time, like most people around the U.S., I cursed the political theater, gerrymandering and whoever elected guys that can’t compromise. Though I worshipped the women in Congress who led the way to avoiding national suicide, I felt that wasn’t enough. 

Women in Congress, 2013.

Women clearly succeeded where men failed. We need more women in government. But why limit it to the U.S.?

As I was making plans to form a global political action committee, Help Women Rule the World, I saw an article about a research prepublication on corruption. Inability to compromise does not equate to corruption, of course. Yet the findings suggest that, while having more women in government would benefit democracies like the U.S., it probably wouldn’t make much difference elsewhere.

Study Data and Findings

The study was conducted by collaborators from Rice University and The National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.

One phase of the study analyzed national-level corruption using data collected on 157 countries, 1998 to 2007, by three organizations: Transparency International, the World Bank Governance Indicators and the International Crisis Group. A second study phase considered individual-level attitude toward corruption in 68 countries, 1999-2002, using data collected by the World Values Survey

The study concluded that, compared to men, women would be less tolerant of and less involved in corruption, but only in countries where corruption was outlawed and considered wrong, as in most democracies. If, on the other hand, corruption was a regular part of governing, there would be no gender gap. Women would conform to the norm.

Women’s attitude toward corruption follows suit. Female disapproval of bribe-taking is greater than male disapproval, but only in countries with democratic institutions.

The investigators judge that, while the data could be interpreted differently, the results will still show that recruiting women into government is unlikely to uniformly reduce corruption.

Wrap Up

The researchers offered possible explanations for the study findings. They suggest that the gender differences might be attributed to women being more averse to violating political norms as well as to the increased risk of violating institutional norms posed for woman because of gender discrimination.

Whatever the reasons, we in the U.S. are fortunate that women rock in democracies. Let’s get more in government!

This was not a paid political announcement (though I’m open to bids). Thanks for stopping by.


Research paper to be published in Politics and Gender–Journal of Women and Political Research Section of American Political Science Association: jee3.web.rice.edu/corruption.pdf

ScienceDaily article and Rice University news release on study:

Organizational sources of study data:
-Transparency International:  www.transparency.org/
-World Bank Governance Indicators: data.worldbank.org/data-catalog/worldwide-governance-indicators
-International Crisis Risk Group: www.crisisgroup.org/
-World Values Survey: www.worldvaluessurvey.org/

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