On the Fast Track: The Spread of Gender Quota Policies for Elected Office

38 Pages Posted: 19 Sep 2015

See all articles by Pippa Norris

Pippa Norris

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS); University of Sydney

Drude Dahlerup

Stockholm University

Date Written: July 23, 2015


What has driven the worldwide adoption and subsequent revision of gender quota policies? This study argues that this phenomenon can be best understood as exemplifying ‘glocalization’ – with policies adopted due to a combination of changing international discourses and regional diffusion combined with domestic political activists. Moreover a process of policy learning is evident; where the initial policies were relatively ineffective, by failing to ensure a more equitable gender balance in elected office, this spurs subsequent revisions. Empirical analysis supporting this interpretation draws on a new comprehensive cross-national dataset, The Gender Quota Database (GQD, Release 1.0 May 2014). Part I of the paper provides the theoretical framework and literature review. Part II summarizes the research design, data and evidence. Part III describes the use of the main types of gender quotas in politics in various regions of the world (as of May 2014), and discusses trends (waves) in the adoption and amendment of quotas. Part IV presents the results of the analysis of drivers behind the initial adoption of legal gender quotas. Both regional and domestic forces play a role in the initial adoption of gender quota policies, controlling for fixed socio-economic, political and cultural conditions. Part V considers policy-learning processes leading to subsequent revisions strengthening quota laws, focusing upon the lack of success when implementing earlier policies. The conclusion summarizes the key findings and considers their implications.

Keywords: Politics, Institutions of Government, Elections, Gender

Suggested Citation

Norris, Pippa and Dahlerup, Drude, On the Fast Track: The Spread of Gender Quota Policies for Elected Office (July 23, 2015). HKS Working Paper No. 15-041. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2662112 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2662112

Pippa Norris (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-1475 (Phone)
617-496-2850 (Fax)

University of Sydney ( email )

University of Sydney
Sydney, NC NSW 2006

Drude Dahlerup

Stockholm University ( email )

Universitetsvägen 10
Stockholm, Stockholm SE-106 91

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