Working Hard or Hardly Working? Gender and Voter Evaluations of Legislator Productivity

Lotte Hargrave, Jessica C. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Do women have to work harder in office to be evaluated the same as men? When running for office, studies show that women are, on average, more qualified than men candidates. Once in office, women outperform their men colleagues in sponsoring legislation, securing funding, and in their constituency responsiveness. However, we do not know whether women need to outperform men in their political roles to receive equivalent evaluations. We report on a novel conjoint experiment where we present British voters with paired profiles describing Members of Parliament at the end of their first parliamentary term. Through manipulating the legislative outputs, gender, and party of MPs, we find that voters overall prefer politicians who are productive to politicians who are unproductive, and reward productive politicians in job performance and electability evaluations. However, we find no evidence that productive women are unjustly rewarded, nor do unproductive women face greater punishment than men. Our results suggest that, at least for productivity as measured in parliamentary-based activities, women politicians do not need to work harder than their men colleagues to satisfy voters.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPolitical Behavior
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jan 2023


  • Conjoint experiment
  • Gender
  • Legislative politics
  • Stereotypes
  • Voting behaviour


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