Women in Politics Less Likely to be Corrupt, Study Says

But only in democratic countries.

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A woman waits to become an American citizen at a naturalization ceremony held at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), office in New York City, on May 17, 2013.

Here’s another reason to address gender disparities in Congress: Female politicians are less likely than their male counterparts to engage in corruption, and more likely to disapprove of it when they see it, a new study says.

The study, written by political science researchers at Rice University and titled “’Fairer Sex’ or Purity Myth? Corruption, Gender, and Institutional Context,” amassed data from countries around the world to measure the extent to which women participate in and tolerate corrupt practices in various contexts. In democratic countries with generally low levels of corruption, the study says, they are less likely to be corrupt and less likely to tolerate corruption than male politicos. The effect does not hold up in countries where corruption is endemic, however.

“States that have more corruption tend to be less democratic,” study author Justin Esarey told Science Daily. “In autocracies, bribery, favoritism, and personal loyalty are often characteristic of normal government operations and are not labeled as corruption.”

Esary reportedly theorized that women may feel more bound by the political norms of the society in which they are operating. Simply recruiting more women into politics in deeply corrupt countries would thus not decrease corruption; but in less corrupt countries, recruiting more women into public service may indeed decrease overall corruption.

In the United States women currently hold only about 20 percent of seats in Congress.

[Science Daily]