Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation


Political Science

First Advisor

Laura Woliver

Second Advisor

Lee Walker


My dissertation advances the theory of democratic representation by separating descriptive representation from substantive representation. Although there has been a substantial amount of research on the relationship between gender and legislative representation, there are conflicting findings about the activities and effects of female legislators. The outcome variable, government spending, measures substantive representation by analyzing government spending data across several issue areas. The key question is: has the addition of women to national legislatures led to an increase in government spending in women's issue areas?

Despite the quantitative nature of the data, I employed a mixed methods approach to identify the causal mechanisms between female legislators and government spending outcomes. I constructed a substantial cross-national, time-series data set, which tracks spending in defense, education, childcare, and maternity/paternity leave spending during a 28 year period. I joined the dependent variable data with measures of the percent of women in the legislature, the presence of a strong, autonomous women's movement, the presence of a state feminist agency, the rate of female labor force participation, while also including additional covariates. Following the statistical analyses, I employed case-studies to illustrate the causal mechanisms within legislative process.