There are currently more women serving in Congress than at any other time in history. This undoubtedly is a benefit for the institution, which for most of its history has been a boy's club. And the change has had immediate, major impact: Consider the bipartisan coalition of female House members who banded together to stop an abortion bill, over a measure that would require women to report rape to authorities.
Aside from the issue of equal representation, there's a deeper reason why women are good for governance. Women, on a psychological level, are better at engaging in political discussion with those they disagree with. They are less susceptible to the partisan biases that often blind politicians.
Make no mistake, everyone is susceptible to partisan bias—it's baked into our DNA. What Patrick R. Miller and Pamela Johnston Conover are concluding in their new study published in the journal Politics, Groups, and Identities, is that the effects of this bias are less pronounced in women.
Conover and Miller recruited 460 college-aged participants (230 men, 230 women, slightly more Democrats than Republicans), and had them read editorials purportedly written by Republican Mitch McConnell or Democrat Harry Reid. The test: whether partisans would give the editorial written by the opposing party any consideration, as measured by time spent reading, and whether the partisan gave any credit to the argument. The overall result was not surprising: When Democrats read the Reid editorial, they'd spend more time with it and they liked it more than the McConnell one. The same went for Republicans and McConnell. The text of the editorial was the same in each condition.