Gender Gaps in Policy Responsiveness

Nolan Kopkin, Andrew Roberts*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Gender gaps have been documented in numerous areas of American politics, but one area that has not yet been fully explored is responsiveness, the link between citizen preferences and public policies. Equal responsiveness to the preferences of citizens is a central aspect of democratic representation. This article extends work on income gaps in responsiveness to gender gaps. Specifically, it considers whether women’s preferences are less likely than men’s preferences to be adopted as policy in the US. It uses data on preferences and policy adoptions from 1981 to 2002 created by Gilens. The main finding is a large gender gap in responsiveness. The gap is similar in size to the one between rich and poor, it is particularly large in policies related to the use of force, and it did not narrow over the two decades studied. These results show that inequalities beyond social class deserve significant attention in the study of democratic responsiveness and that aspects of bias against women in politics remain underexplored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1340-1356
Number of pages17
JournalPolitical Research Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2023


  • Gender
  • public opinion
  • race and identity
  • representation and electoral systems
  • women and politics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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