Figurines and Doyennes: The Selection of Female Ministers in Autocracies and Democracies
64 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2022
Date Written: March 8, 2022
Though governments historically have been a men’s club, women are increasingly gaining access. We argue that democratic institutions are important drivers of women’s inclusion in executive government. This stems from autocratic versus democratic leaders’ rationales when selecting ministers. Autocrats fear a coup by inner-circle elites, who mostly are men, incentivizing them to assign ministerial positions as co-optation. To the contrary, democratic leaders are accountable to the citizenry through elections, and have to satisfy increasing demands for gender equality. Furthermore, we argue that it is historical experience with democracy that matters, rather than the level, as it takes time to create an even playing field, change attitudes, and generate trust in democracy. To support this, we contribute the first study using the largest dataset, namely WhoGov, on women’s access to cabinets. Overall, we show that democracy is a process that enables women to gradually enter the highest echelons of power.
Keywords: autocracy, democracy, cabinets, gender, democratization
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