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Gender Quotas and Democratic Participation

Gender Quotas and Democratic Participation: Recruiting Candidates for Elective Offices in Germany

Louise K. Davidson-Schmich
Copyright Date: 2016
Pages: 512
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  • Book Info
    Gender Quotas and Democratic Participation
    Book Description:

    Since the 1970s, quotas for female political candidates in elections have proliferated worldwide. Beyond increasing the numbers of women in high-level elected bodies and, thereby, women's political representation, advocates claim that quotas foster gender-equal participation in democracy and create female role models. According to this reasoning, quotas also overcome barriers to women's political participation, especially discriminatory practices in the selection of electoral candidates. Though such claims have persuaded policy makers to adopt quotas, little empirical evidence exists to verify their effects.

    InGender Quotas and Democratic Participation, Louise K. Davidson-Schmich employs a pathbreaking research design to assess the effects of gender quotas on all phases of political recruitment. Drawing on interviews with, and an original survey of, potential candidates in Germany, she investigates the extent to which quotas and corresponding increases in women's descriptive representation have resulted in similar percentages of men and women joining political parties, aspiring to elected office, pursuing ballot nominations, and securing selection as candidates. She also examines the effect of quotas on discriminatory selection procedures. Ultimately, Davidson-Schmich argues, quotas' intended benefits have been only partially realized. Quotas give women greater presence in powerful elected bodies not by encouraging female citizens to pursue political office at rates similar to men's, but by improving the odds that the limited number of politically ambitious women who do join parties will be elected. She concludes with concrete, original policy recommendations for increasing women's political participation.

    eISBN: 978-0-472-12161-8
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments (pp. ix-xii)
  4. List of Abbreviations (pp. xiii-xiii)
  5. List of German Terms and English Translations (pp. xiv-xvi)
  6. Introduction: Gender Quotas and Women’s Descriptive Representation—Missing Mechanisms (pp. 1-25)

    The past decades have witnessed a marked rise of women into elective offices across all branches of government, but especially into national legislatures; worldwide, the percentage of female members of parliament (MPs) has tripled since 1970. Women’s presence in national parliaments has come to be considered an important component of democracy by international organizations, including the United Nations, and political equality is now viewed as requiring participation from both sexes (Dahlerup 2006; Krook 2009; Franceschet and Piscopo 2013). Moreover, because female political leaders are thought to serve as role models who can awaken other women’s and girls’ interest in public...

  7. ONE The German Political Recruitment Process (pp. 26-69)

    Before I investigate the mechanisms linking German party quotas and women’s increased participation in elected bodies, some background information on the German political recruitment process is needed. This chapter first introduces the German parties and their quotas and then establishes that, since their introduction in the 1980s, these affirmative action policies have indeed increased the percentages of German women in elective office—especially at high levels of government. Moreover, the chapter documents a diffusion effect, whereby even parties without quotas have increased women’s descriptive representation, albeit to a lesser extent. The chapter then goes on to present each phase of...

  8. TWO Eligibles (pp. 70-110)

    Proponents of gender quotas often argue that these affirmative action measures are important because increasing the numbers of women in elective office (women’s descriptive representation) will lead to women’s symbolic representation. That is, quotas and the ensuing cadre of female politicians will send a signal to female citizens that they are capable of ruling, that their political participation is desired, and that political institutions are responsive to their concerns. One expected manifestation of symbolic representation is that women and girls will in turn become more interested, and active, in politics.

    Germany provides an ideal testing ground for this expectation. As...

  9. THREE Aspirants (pp. 111-149)

    The previous chapter reveals that candidate gender quotas have done very little to change the political recruitment environment and informal recruitment structures in Germany, making it difficult for women to join and become active members of political parties. Despite their low percentages of female members, however, several parties have adopted parity or near-parity quotas for inner-party offices, elevating the percentages of women in the eligibility pool. The same occurs, to a lesser extent, in the CDU, which employs a 33 percent “quorum.” In these parties, female party members enjoy better numerical odds than their male counterparts of being selected for...

  10. FOUR Gatekeepers (pp. 150-187)

    The previous two chapters established that quotas have only a limited ability to overcome gendered barriers in the political recruitment environment, resulting in fewer women than men joining political parties and indicating a willingness to campaign for local-level elective offices. However, by changing recruitment structures and requiring parties to select among their few female members for inner-party officers, quotas’ elevator effect has created a pool of female eligibles in Germany and, on average, these individuals do at least consider running for local posts as often as their male counterparts. Moreover, although there are low percentages of women in political parties,...

  11. FIVE Candidates and Elected officials (pp. 188-218)

    The past three chapters have discussed gender quotas’ impact on political recruitment in Germany. Chapter 2 established that, while the percentage of women in German political parties has edged up slightly since quota adoption, female members remain a minority in all German parties—even those with parity or close-to-parity gender quotas. Quotas have nonetheless helped to propel female party members into the positions of inner party leadership that are the prerequisites for a successful candidacy in Germany, creating many female eligibles in the Greens, Social Democrats, and the CDU.

    Moreover, chapter 3 found that women occupying these leadership positions consider...

  12. Conclusion: A Glass Half Full (pp. 219-238)

    Quotas’ impact differs across the various stages of the political recruitment process depending upon whether the influence of formal recruitment structures—the candidate selection rules that quotas directly change—outweigh the influence of informal recruitment structures and the recruitment environment—gendered societal norms and patterns of interaction. These informal norms matter the most early on in political recruitment, hindering women from joining parties and limiting their subsequent propensity to become aspirants. Quotas’ biggest impact comes later in the recruitment process, when gatekeepers select inner-party officers and candidates for elective office. This concluding chapter briefly summarizes my findings and draws out...

  13. APPENDIX A: Translation of Survey and Descriptive Statistics (pp. 239-265)
  14. APPENDIX B: List of Interviews (pp. 266-268)
  15. Notes (pp. 269-278)
  16. References (pp. 279-294)
  17. Index (pp. 295-304)