New Publication: Legislators’ Emotional Engagement with Women’s Issues: Gendered Patterns of Vocal Pitch in the German Bundestag

A new study in the British Journal of Political Science analyses the sound of politicians’ voices.

When humans talk, the sound of their voices tells us something about how deeply they care about the issues they are talking about. This is also true when politicians talk in parliament: When their voices sound very emotional, this indicates that they care more about the issue they are talking about than when their voices sound sluggish and monotonous. In a newly published study in the British Journal of Political Science, Oliver Rittmann makes use of this fact and analyses the sound of politicians’ voices during more than 30,000 speeches in the German Bundestag between 2011 and 2020. In doing so, the study aimed to find out whether women politicians in the Bundestag are more emotionally invested in women-related issues than men. The results suggest this is the case: Women in the Bundestag speak more often and with greater emotional intensity when they address women than men.

These results provide cause for optimism for those who hope that increasing the presence of women in parliaments will eventually lead to a better representation of women’s interests. Because women seem to care more deeply about women-related issues than men, the increasing presence of women in parliaments will likely change the seriousness with which women-related issues are dealt with in parliament.

Link to the study (open access):