Study shows women lawmakers address sexual assault on campus

Published: Mar. 3, 2021 at 4:37 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Up at the UNR campus, students may believe the facility functions in a bubble.

But instructors to the president here know the Nevada Legislature has a big influence on what is funded and what gets attention on campus every two years during the session.

Since 2019 more women serve in Nevada’s legislature than men.

One UNR researcher wanted to know how gender in state legislatures influences bills involving sexual assault on campus.

“And we wanted to understand where there was a representation of women in a state legislature and the likelihood of a bill addressing sexual assault on campus be enacted,” says Dave Johnson, Assistant Professor at the UNR College of Education.

Johnson says what they found: Women’s representation was essential to get the bill introduced, but more elements needed to be in play to get such a bill through both houses.

For instance, having a majority didn’t necessarily matter. It was the experience, and power those women had to influence the legislation on its way to the Governor’s desk.

“It is the total number of women serving in the upper chambers in the state senate that has a positive influence on bills being introduced,” says Johnson.

Johnson says up to 37% of women in higher education are impacted by sexual assault on campus.

Women in state legislatures may be able to lobby fellow lawmakers, men and women regardless of party through personal experience or through a better understanding of the problem on campus. As more Democratic women served in higher positions at state legislatures across the country, more sexual assault on campus legislation began to appear says Johnson.

But there is one more interesting note. “And these bills are more likely to be enacted in states controlled by Republicans.” Says Johnson.

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