Over the past several decades, the number of women elected to higher office in the United States has grown substantially. However, when the electoral gains of women are considered on a state-by-state basis, there are observable variations in the rate by state at which women are elected to state legislative office. Scholars have noted an additional variation in women office holders: that women of color serve at higher rates than white women.
Becki Scola’s book provides an explanation for these two interrelated puzzles on electoral gender gaps. She examines the factors surrounding the uneven proportional distribution of female legislators, and then explores why gender appears to be an advantage for women of color office holders. Through an examination of the divergent state-level institutional and environmental conditions, Scola maps out the factors that contribute to more, or less, female legislative service and how race/ethnicity intersects with these conditions. She reveals that the common conceptions and theories that help us understand women’s office holding in general do not equally apply to both white women and women of color’s legislative service..
The first book-length study to analyze how race informs gender in terms of patterns of office holding, Gender, Race, and Office Holding in the United States provides insight into both underrepresentation in general as well as the underlying dynamics of representation within specific groups of women.
"Focusing on explaining how contextual-institutional factors matter differently for the office-holding of white women and women of color in state legislators, Becki Scola’s book breaks new ground for research on women and politics using the intersectionality approach. Her finding of a positive relationship between percent minority and the gender gap among legislators of color in a state will attract the attention of scholars on race, ethnicity, and politics, too."
—Pei-te Lien, University of California Santa Barbara
"In providing a racial analysis of the gender gap in state legislatures, Scola tackles a key question in the emerging field of intersectionality research: Although women of color are still very underprepresented in proportion to their share of the population, why do they serve as state legislators at higher rates than their white female counterparts when considered as a proportion of their respective ethnoracial groups? This book not only provides a state-by-state portrait of the geographical variation in women of color state legislative office holding, but it also delineates the state environments that are more favorable for women generally, white women and women of color in particular. This book is an important resource for scholars and students of political science and ethnic/racial studies, especially those interested in understanding the racial and ethnic dynamics of women’s representation in state legislatures."
—Carol Hardy-Fanta, University of Massachusetts Boston
1. Introduction: The Puzzle of Women of Color’s Legislative Service. 2. Geographical Variation, the Gender Gap, and Intersecting Theories of Representation. 3. Mapping the Terrain: Descriptive Representation at the Intersection of Gender and Race/Ethnicity. 4. Geographical Variation at the Intersection. 5. Gender Gaps at the Intersection. 6. Conclusion: Representation at the Intersections.