Gender Quotas and Women's Political Leadership

39 Pages Posted: 29 Nov 2014

See all articles by Diana Z. O'Brien

Diana Z. O'Brien

Washington University in St. Louis

Johanna Karin Rickne

Stockholm University - Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI)

Date Written: September 18, 2014

Abstract

Though more than 100 countries have adopted gender quotas, the impacts of these reforms on women’s political leadership remain largely unknown. We exploit a quasi-experiment — a zipper quota imposed by the Swedish Social Democratic national party on municipal party groups — to examine quotas’ effect on women’s selection and survival as leaders within their parties. We find that those municipalities where the quota had a larger impact became more likely to appoint female leaders, but not more likely to support the reelection of women to the post. Extending this analysis, we show that the quota increased the number of qualified female candidates without increasing the diversity among women within the group. These results lend support to the notion that quotas may have an acceleration effect on women’s representation in leadership posts and help dispel the myth that quotas trade short-term gains in women’s descriptive representation for long-term exclusion from political power.

Keywords: gender quotas; political leadership, party leaders, political careers, electoral reforms, women and politics, subnational politics

JEL Classification: J45, J16, J21, H10

Suggested Citation

O'Brien, Diana Z. and Rickne, Johanna Karin, Gender Quotas and Women's Political Leadership (September 18, 2014). IFN Working Paper No. 1043, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2498108 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2498108

Diana Z. O'Brien

Washington University in St. Louis ( email )

One Brookings Drive
Campus Box 1208
Saint Louis, MO MO 63130-4899
United States

Johanna Karin Rickne (Contact Author)

Stockholm University - Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI) ( email )

Kyrkgatan 43B
SE-106 91 Stockholm
Sweden

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