The Downside of Gender Quotas? Institutional Constraints on Women in Mexican State Legislatures

Posted: 5 Aug 2009

Date Written: July 2008

Abstract

In recent years, a rich and varied body of literature has developed that focuses on the way that institutional structures limit women's substantive representation. Claims have been made that some women legislators are more likely to suffer from institutional constraints than others; those entering legislature via legal gender quotas. Examining two Mexican state legislatures, where only one has adopted legal gender quotas, empirical testing gives no support to the hypothesis; ‘quota women’ do not seem to confront more obstacles than other women. No such negative side effect of quota legislation is identified. Two reasons are put forward; first, dependency on particular leaders is not isolated to quota women but is part of the overall political system. Secondly, the most strident battles occur within political parties for positions of power; hence gender quotas are perceived as a threat mainly to male colleagues within the party. Two key aspects are identified that deserve closer attention in order to gain a more comprehensive picture of the relationship between gender quotas and institutional obstacles to women's substantive representation: the political agendas raised by quota women and the interplay between different quota provisions and candidate selection rules.

Suggested Citation

Zetterberg, Pär, The Downside of Gender Quotas? Institutional Constraints on Women in Mexican State Legislatures (July 2008). Parliamentary Affairs, Vol. 61, Issue 3, pp. 442-460, 2008, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1442277 or http://dx.doi.org/gsn016

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