Women Politicians and Sex Scandals

Cokie Roberts, Senator Kay Bailey Hutcheson, and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand all seem to agree that important woman politicians are too busy with work and family responsibilities to have affairs. Similarly, Dana Perino said that if we “elect more women” we’ll have fewer sex scandals back when South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford was in the news. But as best I can tell research indicates that married women are just as likely to cheat as married men, and certainly it seems to me that the men of the US Senate are also quite busy.

I’m really not sure the sample size is anywhere near large enough to draw any conclusions about important women in politics having affairs. Over the past 20 years, only 23 women have served in the US Senate. By contrast, 23 men have joined the Senate just since January 3, 2007. And none of those men has been caught up in a sex scandal. But nobody thinks that starting on January 3, 2007 men who get into the Senate stopped having affairs. It’s just that the vast majority of male politicians are never embroiled in a sex scandal—possibly because the vast majority of male politicians don’t do any scandalous stuff.