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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 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.
Do gender quota laws – policies that mandate women's inclusion on parties' candidate slates – affect policy outcomes? Making Gender Salient tackles this crucial question by offering a new theory to understand when and how gender quota laws impact policy. Drawing on cross-national data from high-income democracies and a mixed-methods research design, the book argues that quotas lead to policy change for issues characterized by a gender gap in preferences, especially if these issues deviate from the usual left/right party policy divide. The book focuses on one such issue, work-family policies, and finds that quotas shift work-family policies in the direction of gender equality. Substantive chapters show that quotas make gender more salient by giving women louder voices within parties, providing access to powerful ministerial roles, and encouraging male party leaders to compete on previously marginalized issues. The book concludes that quotas are one important way of facilitating congruence between women's policy preferences and actual policy outcomes.
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