Descriptive Representation and the Allocation of Policy-Making Authority: Evidence from Women in Cabinets and Bureaucracies

Governance. 20(4):559-580.

Posted: 29 Nov 2005 Last revised: 20 Jan 2015

See all articles by Andrew B. Whitford

Andrew B. Whitford

University of Georgia - Department of Public Administration and Policy

Vicky M. Wilkins

American University - School of Public Affairs

Mercedes G. Ball

Spelman College

Date Written: 2007

Abstract

We examine forces for the descriptive representation of women in ministerial and sub-ministerial positions. We offer a unified model in which portfolio allocation makes political forces for descriptive representation more important in the case of ministerial lines; in contrast, labor market forces determine the extent of descriptive representation in sub-ministerial lines. We provide evidence for this claim from data for 72 countries and show that the advancement of women into ministerial posts depends on the form of electoral system and presence of women in the legislature (conditional on being in a parliamentary system). In contrast, the sub-ministerial representation for women depends on the supply of women in the workforce. Additionally, the increased incidence of women in ministerial lines is associated with an increase in representation in sub-ministerial lines.

Keywords: Descriptive representation, gender, cabinet, bureaucracy, portfolio allocation

JEL Classification: J16, D73, D78

Suggested Citation

Whitford, Andrew B. and Wilkins, Vicky M. and Ball, Mercedes G., Descriptive Representation and the Allocation of Policy-Making Authority: Evidence from Women in Cabinets and Bureaucracies (2007). Governance. 20(4):559-580., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=824626

Andrew B. Whitford (Contact Author)

University of Georgia - Department of Public Administration and Policy ( email )

Athens, GA 30602
United States
706-542-2898 (Phone)
706-583-0610 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://andrewwhitford.com

Vicky M. Wilkins

American University - School of Public Affairs ( email )

Washington, DC 20016
United States

Mercedes G. Ball

Spelman College ( email )

350 Spelman Lane S.W.
Atlanta, GA 30314-4399
United States

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