January, 27 — Regular Seminar
Topic: “Gender Gap in Issue Attention in the Italian Parliament (1948-2020)”
Speakers: Luigi Curini, Silvia Decadri, Alfio Ferrara, Stefano Montanelli, Fedra Negri, and Francesco Periti (Università degli Studi di Milano)
Ronald F. Inglehart Laboratory for Comparative Social Research announces the next regular seminar, which will be held as a Zoom session on January, 27 at 16-30 p.m. (GMT+3). Luigi Curini, Silvia Decadri, Alfio Ferrara, Stefano Montanelli, Fedra Negri, and Francesco Periti (Università degli Studi di Milano) will deliver a report “Gender Gap in Issue Attention in the Italian Parliament (1948-2020)”.
A link to Zoom session is available by request via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Abstract. We test the expectations of the Critical Mass Theory (CTM) on gender gap in issue attention between male and female members of Parliament (MPs) by applying semi-supervised text analytic techniques to a novel dataset on Italian parliamentary speeches that spans the entire Italian republican history (1948-2020) covering more than 7,000 PMs. We detect the overall existence of gender gap in issue attention, with male MPs discussing more about agentic issues and female MPs more about communal issues. However, and coherently with the expected increase in women bargaining power as a function of their institutional presence as postulated by the CMT, when the percentage of women in parliamentary groups overcomes a threshold of around 30%, gender gap in issue attention on agentic issues tends to disappear. Furthermore, we investigate if the increased ability of women to discuss agentic issues brings with itself a possible different agenda (or at least a different vocabulary) compared to that of their male colleagues. We find in this respect a somewhat mixed answer: gender polarization in the vocabulary employed within a parliamentary group decreases as the percentage of female MPs increase until a threshold of around 30%, past which polarization starts increasing. This evidence suggests a potential twofold mechanism in action: at lower levels of women representation, common norms of conduct lead women to speak as their male counterparts, while beyond a critical "representation threshold" women seem to have enough bargaining power to stand out, as the CMT would suggest.
Everyone interested is invited!
The working language is English.