Gender, Race, and the State Legislature: A Research Note on the Double Disadvantage Hypothesis

Document Type


Publication Date



The "double disadvantage" hypothesis stipulates that black females are politically disadvantaged twice (once by gender, once by race). This hypothesis suggests that because of both their race and gender, black women will find it especially difficult to compete successfully in electoral politics in the United States. This leads one to expect that proportionately fewer black women would hold elective office than is true for other groups (e.g. white women, black men, white men). It would also suggest that black women could overcome these disadvantages only if they exceed their gender and racial counterparts in certain preparatory background characteristics such as education and occupational prestige. We examine these issues, using data on state legislator's backgrounds. We find that only one of the two necessary conditions to corroborate the "double disadvantage" hypothesis is met. Generally, our findings support the conclusions of previous research.

This document is currently not available here.