Research conducted by Colorado College Assistant Professor of Political Science Dana Wittmer Wolfe continues to be cited in a wide range of news articles. Most recently, U.S. News & World Report includes research conducted by Wolfe and her colleagues in an article titled “‘Women’s Issues’ Won’t Pass.”
A key conclusion of the article: “Congress sidelines women and the issues they advance. Public pressure could change that.” Areas traditionally deemed women’s issues include health, education, family, and housing. Wolfe’s research, along with colleagues Craig Volden of the University of Virginia and Alan Wiseman of Vanderbilt University, shows that:
- Since the 1970s women in Congress have sponsored women's issues bills at a significantly greater rate than have men
- Bills featuring women’s issues are significantly more gridlocked than other issues in Congress
- Only 1 percent of women’s issue bills sponsored by women themselves become law
The author asks, “Would more women elected to Congress change these biases?” and concludes that the answer is “not immediately.” This is because norms of seniority keep newly elected women from assuming the chair positions of subcommittees and committees, and without such say in what bills move forward and which die in committee, existing patterns are likely to continue.
The article concludes by saying, “The best hope for changing this situation is awareness of the bias and pressure to change. Whether that pressure will come from women in Congress or from a larger effort remains to be seen. One might object to some policy areas being labeled as women’s issues or men’s issues. Health, education and welfare are important for the future of all Americans. The bias against thoughtful policy proposals in these areas should be troubling to men and women alike.”