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The Politics of Interruptions: Gendered Disruptions of Legislative Speeches

Floor time in legislatures is a valuable commodity that legislators use to gain political capital and electoral benefits. There are well-known political and institutional barriers to participation, but these do not explain gender differences in access to floor time. In this article, we look at the role interruptions play as potential barriers to floor time. We explore how women strategically react to these barriers and consider how these reactions ultimately lead to gendered differences in legislative participation. Our findings show that differences in participation across genders are a consequence of rational strategies followed by women who sacrifice floor time in the short term to avoid the long-term consequences of challenging gendered barriers, such as interruptions. We test our argument using original data on legislative speeches from the Ecuadorian Congress between 1988 and 2018.