Understanding the Impact of Electoral Systems on Women’s Representation

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For some scholars, women’s legislative underrepresentation is, in part, explained by the choice of electoral system. The electoral system literature broadly concludes that proportional representation systems promote gender equality in comparison to other systems (e.g., Caul Kittelson and Schwindt Bayer 2012; Matland 1998; Matland and Studlar 1996; Salmond 2006; Schwindt-Bayer and Mishler 2005; Vengroff, Nyiria, and Fugiero 2003). Recent research on electoral system reform casts doubt on the efficacy of institutions, finding that short-term changes in electoral systems do not necessarily lead to increased levels of women’s representation (Hinojosa and Franceschet 2012; Roberts, Seawright, and Cyr 2013). I argue that the expectation that electoral system reform will instantly increase women’s representation ignores the fact that electoral systems produce equilibriums that often take time to reach. Using a dataset of 98 democratic countries between 1955 and 2012, I show that electoral sy
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-404
JournalPolitics & Gender
StatePublished - Jun 20 2016


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