Gender Gaps and Hidden Majoritarianism in Proportional Representation Systems

51 Pages Posted: 23 May 2023 Last revised: 2 Apr 2024

See all articles by Alexandra Cirone

Alexandra Cirone

Cornell University

Gary W. Cox

Stanford University

Jon H. Fiva

BI Norwegian Business School

Daniel M. Smith

University of Pennsylvania

Dawn Teele

University of Pennsylvania

Date Written: March 30, 2024

Abstract

The share of women in politics is higher, on average, under closed-list proportional representation (PR) electoral systems compared to majoritarian systems. Yet, even in PR systems, progress toward gender parity has been slow and uneven. We consider the role of a common institutional feature of party organization—seniority-based promotion—and argue that gender gaps in career progression can emerge either due to direct bias in the seniority system, or because majoritarian offices (such as local mayor and list leader) serve as important steppingstones that create bottlenecks in women’s career paths. Using more than a century of detailed candidate-level data from Norway, we find that advancement is generally gender-neutral across stages of a typical political career, but that gender gaps emerge at majoritarian bottlenecks. We also document how parties can employ workarounds to mitigate the adverse effects of these bottlenecks on women’s progression into higher offices.

Keywords: political selection, gender, closed-list proportional representation, seniority system, Norway

JEL Classification: D02, D71, D72, J16, N44

Suggested Citation

Cirone, Alexandra and Cox, Gary W. and Fiva, Jon H. and Smith, Daniel M. and Teele, Dawn, Gender Gaps and Hidden Majoritarianism in Proportional Representation Systems (March 30, 2024). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4452382 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4452382

Alexandra Cirone

Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

Gary W. Cox

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States
650-723-4278 (Phone)

Jon H. Fiva

BI Norwegian Business School ( email )

Nydalsveien 37
Oslo, 0442
Norway

Daniel M. Smith (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

133 S. 36th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/danielmarkhamsmith

Dawn Teele

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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