April 12, 2017 at 9:55 pm

Poggione & Students Present Paper on ‘Selective Service: Gender and Legislative Oversight’

Dr. Sarah Poggione

Dr. Sarah Poggione

Dr. Sarah Poggione, Associate Professor of Political Science, led a research team of Ohio University Political Science M.A. and MPA students—Ellenore Holbrook, Alison Thornton, and Morgan Stanley—who presented a paper on “Selective Service: Gender and Legislative Oversight in the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee” at the Midwest Political Science Association Meeting.

Working with co-authors Austen Angers and Kristen Riley, they investigated the effect of gender on how Senators participated in oversight hearings.

Thornton described the research and presentation experience as “rewarding.” Another co-author, Holbrook, stated that the experience pushed her outside of her own “preconceived notions of causality.”

Inspired by Poggione’s Gender and Politics course, the research team developed a theory explaining who participates in bureaucratic oversight and how they participate on specific issues. While research on elected officials finds that women are more active in the policy-making process on women’s issues, little work looks at the implementation stage of the process—when bureaucratic agencies make numerous decisions on how policy will be carried out.

At the federal level, members of Congress can and do oversee and influence policy implementation by executive branch agencies. The research team hypothesized that women committee members are more likely to engage in oversight of executive branch agencies under the committee’s jurisdiction on “women’s issues” compared with their male colleagues.

The research team analyzed six hearings of U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services in the 113th and the 114th Congress that focused, to some extent, on women’s issues. They found that women Senators were more likely to mention women’s issues in these hearings, particularly the issue of sexual assault in the military.

In addition, women Senators’ comments were also more likely than men’s comments to question the specifics of how policies related to women’ issues were implemented and enforced. Understanding how gender influences who participates in overseeing bureaucratic decision making has important implications for public policy and further illuminates the relationship between the presence of women in government and the substantive representation of women’s interests.

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