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Objectification and dehumanization are topics often discussed within the social psychology and feminist theory literature. Research on objectification has largely focused on the sexual objectification of women’s bodies, whereas the dehumanization literature has focused on dehumanization in the context of racial and ethnic groups. Extant political science research has only recently begun to engage with these concepts. In this manuscript, we build upon these literatures and apply these insights to questions relevant to politics. In particular, we argue that objectifying and dehumanizing portrayals of women impact how voters evaluate women politicians and how much they support gender parity in politics. Through a proposed experimental design, we test our hypothesis that the objectification of women as a group can decrease positive evaluations and likelihood of electoral support for women political candidates.
Gender and politics scholars are increasingly making appeals to ethnographic methodology to bring important contributions to understand the reproduction of gender, gender hierarchies, gendered relations, and their redress in parliamentary settings. This article draws upon fieldwork conducted in the U.K. House of Commons and the European Parliament and finds distinctive gendered cultures and norms in debating and working parliaments. Focusing on one dimension of this distinction—the parliamentary debating chamber—the article argues that parliamentary ethnography provides novel empirical insights into this conceptual distinction and into empirical understandings of gendered debating and working parliaments. While parliamentary ethnography is a fruitful innovation, the article discusses the drawbacks of this methodology and provides feminist reflection on ways to make it more accessible.
Chapter 6 compares evidence from qualitative case studies of similar countries that did and did not adopt a quota law, shedding light on the mechanisms linking quotas to policy change and the conditions under which they hold. One of the unique features of quota laws compared to increases in the number of women in parliaments without quotas is that quotas tend to increase the share of women on the right in particular. Quotas thus lead to more women from across the political spectrum entering parliament and, over time, taking on leadership roles. I find that the mechanism of factions (women’s increased leverage within parties and parliament) played an important role in both Belgium and Portugal, as women pushed for greater gender equality in government and formed the majority of a new working group on parenting and gender equality. However, the importance of women as ministers depends on the institutional context: even when quotas increase women in parliaments, they might not increase women in governments. In the counterfactual (non-quota) cases of Austria and Italy, women were often key protagonists in policy reform, but there are fewer of them, especially on the right and far right. This can result in policy stasis or backsliding.
Do gender quotas lead political parties to become more inclusive of women’s preferences? Chapter 4 explores the relationship between quotas and party priorities using manifesto data and qualitative case studies. I focus on the link between quotas and party priorities on three areas : equality, welfare state expansion, and work-family policies. Using matching and regression methods with a panel dataset of parties in OECD democracies, I find that parties in countries that implement a quota law devote more attention to equality than similar parties in countries without a quota. In line with expectations, no change is found to party priorities on welfare state expansion. Using a new dataset of party attention to various work-family policies in four country cases (Belgium, Austria, Portugal, and Italy), I find that quotas are linked to an increase in attention to policies that promote maternal employment (child care, equality-promoting leave) and a reduction in attention to policies that do not (cash transfers that encourage women to stay at home). My qualitative analysis suggests that in countries that have implemented a quota law, parties across the political spectrum jointly promote parental leave and encourage fathers to participate. This is not the case in countries without a quota.
The concluding chapter focuses attention on the book’s main findings and contributions to the literature, which include important theoretical and policy implications. One of the key conclusions is that, while quotas are not a panacea for addressing women’s interests, they are one effective mechanism for facilitating the representation of women’s cross-cutting preferences that are otherwise likely to be ignored -- work-family policies. By providing new insights into when and how quotas matter, the book demonstrates that descriptive representation may be more consequential than is often assumed, even in the context of strong parties and parliamentary democracies. Further, institutions like quota laws can increase the salience of women’s concerns to political elites, and thus have independent effects on the policy-making process. The adoption of quota laws has practical policy implications for work-family and related issues -- policies that affect everyone, not just women. I discuss several promising lines of future inquiry that have potential to advance knowledge in the field, including the effects of gender quotas on informal institutions and outside of advanced democracies. The chapter also explores the extent to which the theoretical framework proposed can apply to other identity groups.
This chapter offers a new theory about the conditions under which gender quotas are most likely to matter for policy outcomes. Building on Mansbridge’s concept of “uncrystallized interests”, I argue that when new policy demands cut across the main left-right (class-based) policy dimension, and the group demanding change faces high barriers to entry in politics, the result is that these issues are often ignored. Parties have little incentive to address issues that cut across the main left-right dimension in politics because they distract from core issues and divide key constituencies. If the groups that support these issues are underrepresented in parties and lack the resources to form a new party, the result is what I call a political market failure -- the issue remains off the agenda. Gender quotas prevent the political dominance of men, and they also signal a new commitment to gender-related concerns. I suggest that quotas are most likely to lead to policy change on those “uncrystallized” issues characterized by: 1) a gender gap in preferences, and; 2) cross-cutting support. The chapter then spells out three main mechanisms through which quotas lead to policy change: factions, ministers, and salience. The final section outlines key assumptions and scope conditions.
This chapter offers an inductive approach to defining women’s interests in politics, mapping gender gaps in preferences and where they fall in the left-right political space. Unlike previous studies, which do not define a priori expectations about quotas and policy change in comparative context, this chapter clearly defines expectations about which policies we can expect quotas to change in rich OECD democracies. Using survey data, the chapter explores the size and direction of gender gaps in preferences for a large number of policy issues across countries and over time. While women prefer more spending than men on issues like unemployment, health care, and poverty, no gender gaps emerge on other issues often perceived to be gendered, like education or military spending. The largest gender gaps exist over the issue of maternal employment, where women are more progressive than men by about ten percentage points, and the gender gap has been growing over time. Gender gaps on maternal employment are not explained by partisan ideology. Gender differences persist within political parties, and attitudes towards maternal employment form a distinct underlying response pattern compared to attitudes towards government intervention. Because of this, subsequent book chapters focus on maternal employment and associated work-family policies as key outcomes of interest.
The first chapter introduces the book’s key puzzle: do gender quota laws affect policy outcomes for women? Quotas are often viewed as a way to promote not only women’s inclusion but their political interests. Yet, we know very little about whether quotas lead to meaningful policy change for women. The question is crucial given how controversial quotas are, and the questions they often raise about tokenism and backlash. After motivating the research question, the chapter organizes current explanations of identity and political decisionmaking to demonstrate the crucial role that quotas can play in bringing not only more women but added salience to gendered issues. It previews the main argument: gender quota laws will lead to policy change on issues that women prioritize which fall off the main left-right (class-based) dimension, like work-family policies. Quota laws add important salience to these cross-cutting issues that parties would otherwise prefer to ignore. Chapter 1 also provides an overview of the data and cases that provide the empirical foundation of the book. Taking a mixed methods approach, the book pairs statistical analysis of party priorities and government reforms with in-depth qualitative case studies from the cases of Belgium and Austria, and Portugal and Italy.
Chapter 5 tackles the question of whether quotas lead to real policy changes. I examine data on public spending on family policies and the composition of leave policies. Work--family policies have evolved rapidly, and I look for evidence that quotas are linked to policies that support mothers working outside the home -- specifically, paid leave that can be shared by parents and paternity-only leave, as opposed to maternity-only leave and family allowances (both of which reinforce gender stereotypes of care). I find that quotas shift the configuration of leave policies towards gender equality -- more paid parental and father-specific leave, and less maternity-only leave. The size of these effects is influenced by how effectively the quota increased the number of women in office (the “quota shock”): the larger the quota shock, the greater the policy shifts observed. I find no evidence of change to spending in areas in which men and women tend to have similar policy preferences, or where issues fall within the bounds of the mainstream, left--right policy dimension (like overall social spending). A key finding from Chapter 5 is that quota laws affect policies: they shift the spending and composition of work--family policies to better support women’s preferences on maternal employment.
Charles V’s early death endangered the monarchical system he created, because his adolescent son faced massive urban rebellions, focused on the unpopular indirect taxes Charles V had created. Not long after the monarchy surmounted that challenge, Charles VI’s descent into madness led to a civil war between the Orléans and Burgundy branches of the family. The civil war necessitated a renewed series of theoretical justifications for monarchical power. The concurrent debates about papal v. conciliar supremacy had particular resonance in France because of Jean Gerson’s key role both in French political life and in the debates within the Church. Writers such as Jean de Terrevermeille, who transformed the “Salic Law” from a rarely cited myth into a largely accepted “fundamental law,” and Christine de Pizan, who created an explicitly French metaphor of the body politic, would have a determining influence on the next two centuries of French political discourse. The political prominence of multiple women placed gender at the center of French politics in this period, a pattern that repeated in the transition to the new vocabulary of State, after 1560.
Women are underrepresented in legislature almost worldwide, and China is no exception. Although the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) implemented its first gender quota in 1933, gender quotas and women's representation in China remain understudied. This study fills the literature gap by examining the subnational variation in gender quota implementation and women's representation in the county-level people's congresses (CPC). Through a comparison of four county-level units in Hunan and Hubei with similar socioeconomic features yet contrasting results in the numbers of female representatives elected in the 2016 CPC election, this study argues that women's access to CPCs is affected by the CCP's adoption and enforcement of grassroots quotas. The fieldwork shows that although all cases introduced a 30 per cent gender quota, only CPCs in Hunan province were able to meet the quota requirements. This was because the grassroots quota threshold was raised in Hunan and strictly enforced, partly as a response to the 2013 Hengyang vote-buying scandal. In contrast, CPCs in Hubei province nominated a large number of “first hands” (yibashou) candidates, very few of whom were women.
Extensive research on gender and politics indicates that women legislators are more likely to serve on committees and sponsor bills related to so-called “women's issues.” However, it remains unclear whether this empirical regularity is driven by district preferences, differences in legislator backgrounds, or because gendered political processes shape and constrain the choices available to women once they are elected. We introduce expansive new data on over 25,000 US state legislators and an empirical strategy to causally isolate the different channels that might explain these gendered differences in legislator behavior. After accounting for district preferences with a difference-in-differences design and for candidate backgrounds via campaign fundraising data, we find that women are still more likely to serve on women's issues committees, although the gender gap in bill sponsorship decreases. These results shed new light on the mechanisms that lead men and women to focus on different policy areas as legislators.
Individuals' attitudes about gender roles have been shown to be associated with a wide range of political outcomes. It is therefore crucial to better understand what shapes these attitudes. This note takes advantage of a randomized survey experiment embedded in the 2018 wave of the European Social Survey (ESS) to investigate how differences in education levels between partners influence the “gender childcare bias”—the extent to which individuals disapprove more of women working full time with children under three than men. Although male and female respondents exhibit an equally strong gender childcare bias on average, we find clear-cut evidence that the bias varies asymmetrically across the household education gap for women and men. In particular, positive household education gaps lead to a smaller gender childcare bias for female respondents, whereas the opposite holds for male respondents. Our findings are more in line with a resource-bargaining approach than a gender identity approach to the formation of gender role attitudes.
Are policy arguments more or less persuasive when they are made by female politicians? Using a diverse sample of American respondents, we conduct a survey experiment which randomly varies the gender associated with two co-partisan candidates across four policy debates. We find strong effects contingent on respondent partisanship and gender, most notably on the issue of access to birth control. On this issue, regardless of the candidate's stance, Democratic respondents, particularly Democratic men, are much more likely to agree with the female candidate. Conversely, Republican respondents, particularly Republican women, are much more likely to agree with the male candidate. We discuss the implications of our findings for the meaning of gender as a heuristic in a highly partisan environment.
This article offers an examination of the discursive significance of the “victim” in the Conservative Party of Canada through a critical discourse analysis of two key pieces of legislation (Bill C-10 and Bill C-36) tabled by the Harper Conservative government. The central argument contends that while all populist arguments may be a form of victim argument, not all conservative victim arguments are populist—particularly ones directed at issues related to women and gender equality. The article finds that, perhaps due to the reactive nature of conservative ideology, conservative politicians in Canada adopt an “ambidextrous” approach to victims—mobilizing two distinct and, at times, contrasting sets of arguments. The article concludes by proposing two possible explanations for this ambidexterity, one stemming from the literature on organizational management and the other from theorizations of the reactive nature of conservative ideology.
This research note describes the Canadian Municipal Elections Database (CMED), a new publicly available and actively maintained dataset of more than 24,000 municipal elections in Canada. We describe the need for high-quality election results data for municipal politics research and describe the content, sources and construction of the CMED. To illustrate the value of the CMED, we estimate gender differences in municipal electoral performance for the first time, finding that women are, on average, more likely than men to win municipal elections in Canada.
We argue that a country's international security context influences individual bias against female leaders and propose three mechanisms: by increasing individual demand for defense, by shaping individual ideological orientations, and by increasing society's level of militarization. Using survey data of more than 200,000 individuals in 84 countries, we show the more hostile the country's security environment, the more individuals are likely to agree that men make better political leaders than do women. We also find support for some of our proposed mechanisms and that the effect of security environments is greater for men than women. Our study presents the first cross-national evidence that the country's international security environment correlates with bias against women leaders.
Gender gaps in voter turnout and electoral representation have narrowed, but other forms of gender inequality remain. We examine gendered differences in donations: who donates and to whom? Donations furnish campaigns with necessary resources, provide voters with cues about candidate viability, and influence which issues politicians prioritize. We exploit an administrative data set to analyze donations to Canadian parties and candidates over a 25-year period. We use an automated classifier to estimate donor gender and then link these data to candidate and party characteristics. Importantly, and in contrast to null effects from research on gender affinity voting, we find women are more likely to donate to women candidates, but women donate less often and in smaller amounts than men. The lack of formal gendered donor networks and the reliance on more informal, male-dominated local connections may influence women donors’ behavior. Change over a quarter century has been modest, and large gender gaps persist.
The Arab world has historically had limited descriptive representation for women, although that is changing. Will having more women officeholders lead women citizens to become more engaged? Or could it depress engagement due to pervasive gender biases? To answer these questions, this paper uses a nationally-representative experiment in Tunisia. Unexpectedly, people were less likely to want to contact their representatives when primed to think of a mixed-gender group of officeholders compared to an all-women group. This pattern did not vary according to respondents’ gender. Further analyses reveal that the effect was concentrated among Islamists, which is consistent with some Islamists’ support for gender segregation. This finding encourages research examining women's political presence in conservative environments where gender segregation is common.
Though the demographic characteristics of judicial nominees in the United States have gained increased political attention in recent years, relatively little is known about how they affect public opinion toward judicial nominees and courts. We evaluate these relationships in the context of race and gender using a conjoint experiment conducted during a recent vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court. We find consistent evidence that Americans are more supportive of coracial nominees, particularly among white Republicans and Black Democrats, but no evidence of a similar effect on the basis of gender. Our results have important implications for theories of descriptive representation and suggest limits to its use as a means for generating political support for judicial nominees.