When the 114th Congress was sworn in two months ago, it was noted that the incoming class was the most diverse in history -- being 80 percent white and 80 percent male. Not everyone sees this as a problem; the racial composition somewhat closely matches the population at large (with plenty of caveats) in the country.
The gender composition, on the other hand, clearly doesn't. There are more women in the United States than men, which leads to an obvious question: What if the composition of Congress reflected the gender composition of the United States?
The (surprising) answer? Nothing. The results of Congressional action are determined almost entirely by party identification, not by gender.
To determine this, we used GovTrack.us data to test what would happen if the gender composition of Congress flipped. That is: What if Congress were 80 percent women, instead of 80 percent men? We took a variety of votes, and redistributed the results by gender within a party. And almost always, the effects were small.
Take the Affordable Care Act. If the vote margin among Democratic and Republican women were applied to the vote counts of Democratic and Republican men, the net change would have been 21 more votes in the House.
That's actually a pretty wide swing. In most cases, the shift is only one or two votes, because the difference between how members of the same party but different genders voted was small.
Now, you may notice that we are switching votes within each party, instead of just flipping them overall. Since there have historically been more female members of Congress who are Democrats, simply flipping the vote across Congress would disproportionately favor Democrats. The argument of some people who advocate for getting more women in Congress may be explicitly that they seek more left-leaning legislators. It's also likely that having a bigger female caucus in either party would shift how the men in the party vote as well. But we can't test those things.
You don't need to take our word for it. Search for a term on the tool below and click on one of the bills that results. If there was a voice vote, you can see how the results would (or wouldn't) have changed if gender roles were reversed.