Does Partisanship Impact Women’s Legislative Behavior?
The 106th and 107th Congresses were pivotal periods for women in both party organizations. In the Republican Party, Rep. Marge Roukema (R-NJ), the most senior Member on the Banking Committee, was passed over for the chairmanship. She retired at the end of the 107th Congress. During the same Congress, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) ran for the leadership post of Minority Whip and won. After the congressional elections in November of 2002, Pelosi became the minority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, replacing Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-MO). This party election installed her in the highest leadership office ever occupied by a female Member of Congress. Pelosi’s ascension to power was provided through the vehicle of the party organization. Roukema’s descent from power was also due to the structure of the party organization. Why was the Democratic Party the first to elect a woman to leadership? Why was the Republican Party averse to Roukema as committee chair? Why were they willing to sacrifice having a woman in such a prominent role of committee leadership?
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