Online Invited Seminar Talk

How Much Do Gender and Party Matter when US Representatives Collaborate?

Laboratory of Digital and Computational Demography
Online Invited Seminar Talk via Zoom, August 18, 2020

Zachary P. Neal, Associate Professor of Sociology and Global Urban Studies at Michigan State University gave an Online Invited Seminar Talk about the influence of gender and party when US Representatives collaborate.


Collaborations in the US congress are increasingly partisan, with legislators polarized into two ideologically-opposed groups. Although partisanship has come to play a powerful role in structuring political collaboration, other factors including gender may also be relevant in the formation of collaborative ties. Women have made substantial gains in legislative representation in the United States, with the percent of female legislators growing six-fold from 3.2% to 19.4% between 1979 and 2019. However, findings remain mixed about the extent to which gender shapes the formation of legislative collaborations, and it remains unclear how trends in legislative gender homophily may be shaped by trends in ideological polarization or gender representation. In this talk, I will discuss some new methods for inferring legislative collaboration networks from bill co-sponsorship data. Then I will discuss using these networks to examine trends in gender homophily in the US House of Representatives from 1979 to 2018, a period of rapid polarization and increasing female representation. We find that female legislators are more likely to collaborate with other female legislators than would be expected by chance, and that this preference for same-gender collaborators peaked in the mid-1990s during the so-called Gingrich Revolution, but has since declined.

The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.