Do Parliaments Underrepresent Women’s Policy Preferences?

Published: November 14th, 2017

Category: About

Exploring Gender Equality in Policy Congruence in Twenty-One European Democracies

November 16th, 5-6pm
Ustler Hall Atrium

Jessica Fortin-Rittberger

Abstract: Although there are considerably more men than women in most parliaments around the world, we know little about whether male-dominated legislatures neglect women’s policy attitudes. Our article addresses this gap by analysing the congruence of policy preferences between women, men, and their elected representatives. We endeavour to answer two questions: Are women’s policy preferences underrepresented in modern democracies? If so, which factors explain the size of the gender gaps in policy preference congruence? Through a comparison of twenty-one European countries, we show that women’s preferences actually tend to be more accurately represented in parliaments than those of men. Moreover, our analyses reveal that this unanticipated finding is largely driven by levels of women’s turnout rather than the share of female office-holders, which leads us to conclude that who votes is more important than who represents for policy preference congruence.

Bio: Jessica Fortin-Rittberger is professor of political science at the University of Salzburg where she holds the chair of comparative politics. Her main areas of research interest include political institutions and their measurement with particular focus on electoral rules, women’s political representation, as well as the impact of state capacity on democratization. Her work has appeared inter alia in Comparative Political Studies, European Journal of Political Research, European Union Politics, and Political Research Quarterly.


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