Status Incongruity and Backlash against Female Legislators: How Legislative Speechmaking Benefits Men, but Harms Women

Yildirim T. M. , Kocapinar G., ECEVİT Y. A.

POLITICAL RESEARCH QUARTERLY, 2019 (SSCI İndekslerine Giren Dergi) identifier identifier


The literature on nomination procedures and intra-party politics shows that engagement in personalized parliamentary activities helps legislators get re-elected and promoted in the party list. However, as a considerable body of scholarly work suggests, women in leadership positions who are perceived to disconfirm the well-known gender stereotypes by being "too assertive" and "agentic" in the workplace may suffer from what social psychologists call the "backlash effect" (i.e., facing economic and social sanctions). Integrating insights from the literatures on perceptions of female leadership and intra-party politics, we reveal the differential effect of legislative speechmaking on the career prospects of male and female members of parliament (MPs). Specifically, using an original dataset of over thirty-five thousand parliamentary speeches and the biographies of 2,140 MPs who served in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey between 1995 and 2011, we show that the well-documented positive effect of engagement in parliamentary activities on career prospects holds for male MPs, but not for their female counterparts. In fact, we found that female MPs who were active on the legislative floor were significantly less likely to get renominated and promoted in the party rank. These results imply that the challenges facing women in leadership positions go beyond electoral competition.