It is widely accepted that an MP’s background influences their legislative behaviour. Yet, little attention has been paid to the impact of an MP’s occupational and educational background, especially with regards to having a STEM background (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). Therefore, the current study investigates the effect of having a STEM educational and/or occupational background on both the likelihood of MPs proposing a STEM Private Member’s Bill (PMB) and the proportion of PMB proposals an MP dedicates to STEM bills. Focussing on the 2015–2017 UK Parliament, we find that having a STEM background does not affect the likelihood of proposing a STEM PMB (or not) but combining an educational and occupational STEM background significantly increases the proportion of an MP’s PMB proposals dedicated to STEM bills. This effect is stronger for the co-sponsors of PMBs than for the primary presenters. We also find that having a STEM educational background matters more strongly for women than for men, and that the level of education in an MP’s constituency also affects the link between having a STEM background and the proportion of submitted STEM PMBs. Our findings highlight the substantive consequences of having a diverse parliament, also in terms of educational and occupational backgrounds.
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Explorative descriptive analyses revealed that women are as likely as men to have a STEM background. There is also no link between the MP’s likelihood of having a STEM background and the educational level of their constituency. MPs with a STEM background are thus not more likely to be MP in a constituency characterised by higher levels of education than MPs with no STEM background.
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Myers, J., Coffé, H. The impact of a STEM background on MPs’ legislative behaviour. Br Polit (2021). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41293-021-00188-2
- Legislative behaviour
- Members of Parliament
- United Kingdom
- Private Member's Bill