Tech Law Journal Congressional Scorecard 1998

The Gender Gap In Congress?

(January 5, 1999)  Tech Law Journal examined whether women and men in Congress differ in their support for high tech. There is no difference when men are compared to women. However, Democratic women in Congress have a much higher average high tech support score than do Democratic men.

This article is a part of the Tech Law Journal Congressional Scorecard 1998 series.   All 100 Senators and all 435 Representatives were rated on a 0 to 100 scale on the basis of their support for high tech.  The scorecard utilized five objective criteria (roll call votes on, and sponsorship of, bills pertaining to encryption, Internet tax moratorium, securities litigation reform, H1B visas, as well as membership in the Internet Caucus). 

Table 1.
Support Scores of Women Senators

Patty Murray D-WA 100
Barbara Boxer D-CA 80
Kay Hutchison R-TX 60
Susan Collins R-ME 40
Diane Feinstein D-CA 40
Mary Landrieu D-LA 40
Olympia Snowe R-ME 40
Carol Braun D-IL 20
Barbara Milkulski D-MD 20

The average score for women Senators was almost the same as for male Senators. The nine women in the Senate had an average score of 48.89. The overall average for the Senate was 48.80, and the average score of the 91 men was 48.78. Given the small number of women in the Senate, and the small difference between the average for men and women, it would be hard to argue on the basis of these averages that men and women in the Senate have different levels of support for high tech.


Senate Scores
House Scores
Scorecard Criteria
Notes on Methods


Senate Top 10
House Top 10


Regional Patterns
Urban vs. Rural
Party Affiliation
Digital Divide
Gender Gap?
Age and Seniority

This same pattern prevails in the House of Representatives. The average score for women in the House (49.26) is almost identical to the average score for men (49.29). The larger number of people in the House of Representatives (435), and the almost identical averages for men and women, provides an even stronger argument that men and women in the Congress have the same level of support for high tech.

Women were among the top supporters of high tech in 1998. Anna Eshoo (D-CA, Score 100), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA, Score 100), and Jennifer Dunn (R-WA, Score 100) not only had perfect scores on the objective Scorecard, but were also picked for the House Top Ten List, which includes more subjective criteria.

On the other hand, some of the worst Representatives for high tech were women. These included Lucy Roybal-Allard (D-CA, Score 0) and Diane DeGette (D-CO, Score 0).

Perhaps it is also worth mentioning that when using a correlation coefficient to estimate the relationship between the high tech support score and gender, the coefficient is nearly zero for both the House and Senate.

Nevertheless, having set out the evidence that gender does not matter, one could still make an argument that women in Congress do support high tech more than their male counterparts. This argument would involve taking into consideration the party affiliation of legislators. The majority of both female Senators and Representatives are Democrats. However, the Republicans are in the majority in both chambers, and their average high tech support scores are higher than the Democrats'. (See, related story: Congressional Parties and High Tech.)

The average score for women Democrats in the Senate (50.00) is much higher than the average score for male Democrats (33.33). The same holds for the House. The average score of the women Democrats is 44.86, while the average male Democrat's score is 35.79. On the Republican side, men and women in the House have almost the same average score, while in the Senate the men have a much higher average. However, there are only three female Republicans in the Senate.

This data is displayed in the Tables 2 and 3 below.

Table 2.
Average Support Scores in the Senate By Party and Gender (with numbers of Senators)




Republicans 60.38 (52) 46.67 (3) 59.64 (55)
Democrats 33.33 (39) 50.00 (6) 35.56 (45)
Total 48.78 (91) 48.89 (9) 48.80 (100)

Table 2.
Average Support Scores in the House By Party and Gender (with Numbers of Representatives)




Republicans 60.29 (210) 58.82 (17) 60.18 (227)
Democrats 35.79 (171) 44.86 (37) 37.40 (208)
Total 49.29 (381) 49.26 (54) 49.29 (435)

In conclusion, if you simply compare women to men in Congress, the level of support for high tech is no different. However, if you control for party affiliation, women may be more supportive of high tech.

Of course, this is only an examination of legislative records. No attempt has been made here to examine the voting behavior of the electorate. That is, do female voters view high tech political issues any differently from male voters? This would require some public opinion polling. Tech Law Journal has not done this.