A difference: women in the Texas legislature
Gilmour, Terry L
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Women have made advances in terms of numbers elected to the United States Congress, state legislatures, and local government. This holds true for the State of Texas, particularly since the 1970s. Although women may not initially come to elected office believing that they should make a difference for the concerns of women, many realize the necessity. The central question remains, what - if any, difference do they make once they assume elected office? This dissertation relies upon a variety of methods to explain the increase of women in the Texas legislature had led to a significant shift in policy direction, particularly in the area of legislation that directly benefits children and the family. This theory is supported by historical descriptive evidence, a unique data set examining the legislative activities of men and women in the Texas legislature during a twenty-year period, and a survey of the men and women who served during the 75th Texas Legislative session. I cannot argue that this change in policy direction was solely a direct result of the increase of women. Certainly, there are factors that have occurred during the past twenty years that have brought an awareness of traditional domestic concerns to the forefront. However, I can argue that the mere presence of women in the legislature created an environment more open to the discussion of these issue areas and that it was these women who spurred the awareness. With the increase of women in the Texas legislature over, time, legislation initiated by these women and subsequently passed into law became increasingly more prevalent. While the increase of women in the Texas legislature may not have been the difference, they certainly have made a difference, most specifically in the policymaking of legislation that enhances the status of children and the family.