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The Effects of Female Leadership on Women's Voice in Political Debate

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 September 2019

Jack Blumenau*
Department of Political Science, University College London
*Corresponding author. E-mail:


Do female leaders amplify the voices of other women in politics? The author addresses this question by examining parliamentary debates in the UK House of Commons. In the context of a difference-in-differences design that exploits over-time variation in the gender of cabinet ministers, the article demonstrates that female ministers substantially increase the participation of other female MPs in relevant debates, compared to when the minister is male. It also uses a measure of debate influence, based on the degree to which words used by one legislator are adopted by other members, to show that female ministers also increase the influence of female backbenchers. To explore the mechanisms behind these results, the author introduces a new metric of ministerial responsiveness and shows that female ministers are significantly more responsive than their male counterparts to the speeches of female backbenchers.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2019

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