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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter September 29, 2020

“Gender Imbalance in Expert Testimony at U.S. Senate Hearings”: The Forum

  • Jeremy Pressman EMAIL logo
From the journal The Forum


How much gender diversity is there among experts in the United States? This study focuses on witnesses who testified before four US Senate committees: Agriculture; Commerce, Science & Transportation; Foreign Relations; and Health, Education, Labor & Pensions. Across the 9072 witnesses (2003–15), women comprised 23.7% of witnesses. In terms of panels, 49.8% were male-only, 5.8% were female-only, and 44.4% were mixed gender. Although the overall numbers remain significantly low proportionate to the female share of the US population, there was an incremental increase in the proportion of women testifying and of mixed gender panels. Non-governmental organizations had the highest share of female witnesses. The percentage of female witnesses does vary with which party controls the Senate, with the average female share higher under Democratic control. These findings raise questions for further study about what factors influence the selection of witnesses for US Senate hearings and whether a similar lack of diversity exists in other identity categories such as race and ethnicity. The effort could also be extended to other committees in the Senate, as well as to the US House.

Corresponding author: Jeremy Pressman, University of Connecticut, Storrs, USA, E-mail:

For research assistance, I would like to thank Mariah Brennan, Darren Daughtry Jr., Nicholas Dawson, Tatyanna Fernandez, Nicholas Fuller, Gulrukh Haroon, Christopher P. Kelly, Emily Klawitter, Sydnie Kremidas, Michael Korniewicz, David Luchs, Leann McLaren, and Humza Mirza. Thank you for comments and suggestions to Rachael Cobb, Thomas Hayes, Jacqueline L. Hazelton, Prakash Kashwan, David Yalof, and the anonymous reviewers. I would also like to acknowledge the financial support of the Scholarship Facilitation Fund at the University of Connecticut.


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Published Online: 2020-09-29

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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