CUREJ - College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal

How Congresswomen of Color Affect Policymaking in the U.S.: 110th - 111th Congress

Chiyel R. Hayles

Division: Social Sciences

Dept/Program: Political Science

Document Type: Undergraduate Student Research

Mentor(s): Daniel Gillion

Date of this Version: 21 April 2011



Congresswomen of color yield a distinct policy impact in Congress through their perspectives as women and as Americans of color, and through the mix of congressional tools they most often use. Both despite and through the legislative process and the institutional leadership positions they hold, they are able to influence policy by engaging with the executive branch. These more frequently utilized tools include scrutinizing and pressuring the executive branch as advocates, critics and advisers, and public outreach to generate more inclusive and better-informed policymaking. These congresswomen often specifically address substantive interests that are especially pronounced for people of color around the world, women, low-income Americans, and other disadvantaged groups, in policy debates where these considerations are both expected and unexpected. Women of color also adopt a no-nonsense, assertive and persistent style of policymaking. Media content research and other qualitative analyses suggest that Congresswomen of color face more difficulty in gaining credit and attention for their efforts than the average congressperson, which is a disservice to the American public and their understanding of Congress. Their impact is this: their backgrounds as women of color provide expertise and their distinct modi operandi improve the quality of legislation by considering the combined needs of people of color, women, low-income populations, and others both domestic and foreign that the general public is unaware of or purposefully disregard. With a sensitivity to overlooked and disadvantaged peoples, congresswomen of color challenge fellow members of Congress and the American public to broaden their policy concerns to be more inclusive, comprehensive, and just.


American Politics | Legislation | Political Science | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration

Suggested Citation

Hayles, Chiyel R., "How Congresswomen of Color Affect Policymaking in the U.S.: 110th - 111th Congress" 21 April 2011. CUREJ: College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal, University of Pennsylvania,

Date Posted: 11 May 2011




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