Emily Bacchus (Beaulieu), Ph.D.
University of Kentucky
Elections, Election Administration, and Voting Behavior
Comparative Political Institutions
Latin American And Caribbean Politics
Countries of Interest
Trinidad and Tobago
Why do legislative brawls persist even though most citizens do not like them? Physical fights in the legislature present an image of extreme discord and bitter conflict in the democratic process. Original survey data from Taiwan, with its extensive history of legislative brawling, find that Taiwanese citizens view brawls and brawling legislators negatively. We argue that brawls persist despite general unpopularity because opposition legislators can strategically send signals to influential actors, such as strong party supporters in the case of Taiwan. An original panel survey conducted before and after a legislative brawl shows evidence consistent with this argument and demonstrates that brawling causes average evaluations of the legislature and of the democratic process to worsen. Thus, this example of persistent, unpopular partisan conflict helps us understand more generally why politicians might deliberately violate democratic norms and reveals some of the broader consequences of such violations for democratic representation and legitimacy.
Why do people assume female politicians are less likely than men to engage in the illegal use of public positions for private gain? We argue that voters may perceive women as marginalized within political institutions, or as more risk averse and consequently more constrained by institutional oversight, which could lead to perceptions of women as less likely to engage in corruption. Using an original survey experiment, we test these mechanisms against conventional wisdom that women are seen as more honest. We find strong support for the risk aversion explanation, as well as heterogeneous effects by respondent sex for both the marginalization and honesty mechanisms. These findings suggest that the institutional contexts in which women are operating can help explain why people perceive them as less likely to engage in corruption. Identifying these mechanisms is critical to understanding the role of women in politics and for improving trust in government.
Conventional wisdom suggests that voters rarely punish politicians for involvement in sex scandals. Yet, we argue that some voters are likely to hold politicians accountable for their moral transgressions. We theorize that both hostile and benevolent sexists are more likely than nonsexists to punish women for involvement in a sex scandal – but each for different reasons. We posit that women politicians involved in sex scandals activate traditional gender norms and challenge men’s dominant position in the society, thus provoking hostile sexists to punish women more severely than men. Benevolent sexists are likely to punish women who fail to comply with stereotypical expectations of being pure and moral, and the men who fail to safeguard those virtues. To test our theory, we rely on a survey experiment that manipulates politician sex and scandal type. We find strong support for our expectations, indicating that sexism continues to structure evaluations of women politicians and shapes voter reactions to political scandal.
Recent studies show a clear link between women in government and reduced concerns about corruption. Until now, it remains unclear which underlying attitudes about women explain the perception that they will reduce corruption. Using a survey question about adding women to a police force, with an embedded experimental treatment, we examine three distinct stereotypes that might explain the power of women to reduce concerns about corruption: gender stereotypes of women as more ethical and honest, the perception of women as political outsiders, and beliefs that women are generally more risk averse. We find that people do perceive women as more effective at combating corruption, and these perceptions are greatly enhanced when information about women's outsider status and risk aversion is provided.
Women earn 40% of new PhDs in political science; however, once they enter the profession, they have strikingly different experiences than their male counterparts—particularly in the small but influential field of political methodology. For several years, the Society for Political Methodology, with support from the National Science Foundation, has attempted to address this gender gap through the Visions in Methodology (VIM) program. VIM features an annual conference that brings women together to present and discuss their research and to participate in professional-development sessions. Do programs like VIM have the desired impact? Using an original survey of political scientists, this study provides insights into the ways that bringing women together in small-group settings like VIM might facilitate networking and enhance productivity. In particular, the study finds that women who attend the VIM conference are better networked and more productive in terms of publication.
Kentucky Governor's Election Commentary
Kentucky 6th District Congressional Race Commentary
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