Representing Women

Sex, Gender, and Legislative Behavior in Arizona and California

By Beth Reingold

352 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 34 tables, appends., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-4850-0
    Published: April 2000
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-6105-9
    Published: July 2003
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-7243-2
    Published: July 2003

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Awards & distinctions

2023 Mac Jewell Enduring Contribution Book Award, State Politics and Policy Section, American Political Science Association

Women in public office are often assumed to "make a difference" for women, as women--in other words, to represent their female constituents better than do their male counterparts. But is sex really an accurate predictor of a legislator's political choices and actions? In this book, Beth Reingold compares the representational activities and attitudes of male and female members of the Arizona and California state legislatures to illuminate the broader implications of the election and integration of women into public office. In the process, she challenges many of the assumptions that underlie popular expectations of women and men in politics.

Using in-depth interviews, survey responses, and legislative records, Reingold actually uncovers more similarities between female and male politicians than differences. Moreover, the stories she presents strongly suggest that rather than assuming that who our representatives are determines what they will do in office, we must acknowledge the possibility that the influence of gender on legislative behavior can be weakened, distorted, or accentuated by powerful forces within the social and political contexts of elective office.

About the Author

Beth Reingold is professor of Political Science and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality studies at Emory University in Atlanta.
For more information about Beth Reingold, visit the Author Page.


"A careful and important study that should be read by students and scholars of women and politics."--Political Science Quarterly

"Reingold’s book is different from other works in the field and offers a fresh look at the literature on women with regard to elections, representation, policy making, and power. . . . [A] fluid and very readable narrative."--Choice

"Representing Women offers a valuable and interesting case study of gender and representation. It makes an important contribution to the continuing theoretical debates and empirical studies regarding women and politics, especially by integrating these two bodies of literature together. I especially enjoyed its marked thoughtfulness of style."--Virginia Sapiro, University of Wisconsin-Madison

"Does the election of women to state legislatures make much difference in how women are represented? In her excellent and provocative Representing Women, Beth Reingold convincingly argues that often it does not. She reaches this conclusion after comparing the experiences of female legislators in California, a state dominated by liberal Democrats, and Arizona, a state dominated by conservative Republicans."--Earl Black, Rice University