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Women continue to be underrepresented in legislative leadership. This is concerning in U.S. legislatures, where leaders have substantial control over resources and policymaking. As an outgroup, women face additional barriers to power in politics, making it difficult to become a legislative leader. How can women gain influence within their political party? I argue one potential path for overcoming these barriers is the redistribution of campaign resources to other party actors, which helps facilitate connections in the party. These relationships help candidates gain influence, and they can draw on them for support in the legislature. Do women candidates redistribute funds to other actors? If they do, is it an effective path to leadership positions in their state parties? I address these questions using social network analysis and campaign contributions from the 2012 elections in six states. I find that by establishing connections to other party actors through the redistribution of their campaign resources, women candidates can increase their influence in the party and their likelihood of becoming a legislative leader. Moreover, traditional paths to power like seniority help men but not women obtain leadership positions. Even though constraints on power still exist for women in politics, this research highlights an alternative path to influence for women in state legislatures.

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This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in The Social Science Journal on 2022, available online: