Women Are More Frequently Interrupted Than Men in Congressional Committee Meetings

A study by scholars at Barnard College in New York City and Emory University in Atlanta found that women members of Congress are significantly more likely to be interrupted than men during congressional committee hearings, where most business in Congress is done. This is especially true in Senate committees, where women are about 10 percent more likely to be interrupted than men. The authors found that women are more than twice as likely as men to be interrupted in congressional hearings when discussing women’s issues, including reproductive rights, abortion, and child care.

Researchers examined speech patterns from more than 24,000 congressional committee hearings from 1994 to 2018. Using natural language processing techniques, the team analyzed 24 million lines of speech.

“According to our data, women fight through interruption by their colleagues for a full eight to 10 minutes of hearing time. Men fight through significantly less,” says Joe Sutherland, visiting assistant professor of quantitative theory and methods at Emory University. “Women in Congress can encounter greater difficulty in getting their ideas across because they’re being interrupted — especially in policy areas including women’s issues, where they can advocate powerfully on behalf of their constituents.”

The full study, “The Effect of Gender on Interruptions at Congressional Hearings,” was published on the website of the American Political Science Review. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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