Political Science, Department of


Date of this Version

October 1998


Published in Women & Politics 19:4 (1998), pp. 55-66; © 1998 by The Haworth Press, Inc. Used by permission.


The concept of political empowerment has been applied to ethnic and racial minorities, where it has been shown to positively influence political attitudes and participation. We examine whether political empowerment has the same positive consequences for women. Using data from the 1992 National Election Study and Almanac for American Politics 1990, 1992, and 1994, we explore whether women who are represented by women in Congress are more likely to be interested in and participate in politics, have a greater sense of political efficacy, competence, and trust, and evaluate Congress as an institution more favorably than women represented by men. In general, we find women who are represented by women are more interested, participate more, and have greater senses of political efficacy and political competence. Moreover, the findings clearly seem to be a function of empowerment rather than other factors dial might account for both the election of a woman to Congress and differences in attitudes and behavior identified above.