Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science

First Advisor's Name

Kevin Evans

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Todd Makse

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Kyle Mattes

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Nicole Kashian

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


Congress, political communication, women in politics, social media, gendered communication

Date of Defense



This dissertation investigates the interaction of gender and party in the political communication of members of Congress (MCs). The study focuses on the tweets of all MCs in the House of Representatives during two weeks of the 114th Congress (9,374 tweets from 431 MCs). I conduct an in-depth content analysis of these tweets to extract important message characteristics related to issue areas, electoral behaviors, and constituency targeting.

I find that MCs emphasize their partisan ties when they tweet about women’s or men’s issues, but Democratic congresswomen and Republican congressmen go further to address feminine and masculine issue areas respectively. In their electoral behaviors, congresswomen posted more advertising tweets than congressmen, especially Republican congresswomen. Republican congresswomen took individual credit for legislation at high rates and shared very little, while Democratic congresswomen shared credit almost as much as they took individual credit. Furthermore, while both Democratic and Republican congresswomen see themselves as “surrogate representatives” (Carroll 2000) of the women beyond the boundaries of their districts, Democratic congresswomen target national constituencies significantly more often than their colleagues. These results provide evidence that gender is not enough to understand how MCs communicate – the key lies at the nexus of gender and partisanship.





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