Gender Gaps in Political Seniority Systems

42 Pages Posted: 23 May 2023

See all articles by Alexandra Cirone

Alexandra Cirone

Cornell University

Gary W. Cox

Stanford University

Jon H. Fiva

Norwegian School of Management (BI) - Department of Economics

Daniel M. Smith

University of Pennsylvania

Dawn Teele

University of Pennsylvania

Date Written: May 18, 2023

Abstract

Closed-list proportional representation (PR) generates higher average levels of descriptive representation for women. But because parties control candidate promotion, often based on seniority rules, gender bias in the seniority system can potentially curtail women’s career advancement. We theorize how seniority systems might operate in a gender-neutral way at three stages of a typical national-level political career: (1) nomination, (2) renomination and rank advancement, and (3) promotion to cabinet. Using detailed candidate-level data from Norway covering more than a century of elections, we find that career advancement in the seniority system is generally gender-neutral. However, we also identify two “majoritarian bottlenecks”—local mayoralties and top list positions—where women’s seniority-based career advancement may face challenges, and describe how parties appear to have employed workarounds to prevent these bottlenecks from adversely affecting women’s representation at higher levels of the political hierarchy.

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 in Political Seniority Systems (May 18, 2023). 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

Norwegian School of Management (BI) - Department of Economics ( email )

Oslo
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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