Minorities Not Tokens, Toward Gender Equality within Cabinets

32 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2014

See all articles by Michelle Taylor

Michelle Taylor

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: 2014


More women are being appointed to full cabinet-rank posts and they are holding more diverse portfolios. Are these women able to be as effective as the men once they are in the cabinet – in essence have the women become true political players at the highest level of the executive branch, or are they still tokens, but more numerous tokens? We present a theory that uses the political capital resources that ministers, both men and women, bring to the cabinet to predict ministerial success. We predict that ministers who bring more political capital resources to the cabinet will perform more successfully in their job than those with fewer political capital resources. If treatment is equal for women and men with the same quantity of political capital resources that constitutes evidence of gender integration in cabinets. We use three benchmarks for minister effectiveness: duration in post, avoiding a “bad end”, and legislative productivity. Our dataset includes all ministers of full cabinet rank (447 ministers of which 110 are women) from recent presidential administrations in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, and the U.S. Our analysis provides evidence of equal treatment of women. This finding holds across different types of posts, for initial and replacement ministers, and across countries, and indicates that gender integration is occurring in these presidential cabinets. We conclude that while women are still numerical minorities in cabinets they are not treated as tokens.

Suggested Citation

Taylor, Michelle, Minorities Not Tokens, Toward Gender Equality within Cabinets (2014). APSA 2014 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2453176

Michelle Taylor (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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