While party gatekeepers’ prejudices towards women’s entrance to high-profile political posts attracted ample scholarly attention, considerably less is known about the challenges that women face if selected to an influential political post. This paper contributes to closing this research gap by answering the question as to what degree and why the oversight activities of MPs are influenced by the sex of ministers. We argue that women are overseen more tightly than men, because stereotypes about women’s inability to govern continue to shape the subconscious perception of women ministers by parliamentarians. To test this proposition, we study original data for the number, tone, and strength of questions of MPs to ministers in six European countries since the 1970s. The analysis focuses on instances of ministerial change between men and women within the same cabinet to uncover how the behavior of MPs adapts to the sex of the minister in charge. The results from a vector auto-regressive model suggest that MPs oversee women in government more thoroughly than men, albeit to varying degrees depending on their ideological stances.
Does gender affect candidate selection and list placement under proportional representation (PR)? Existing research argues that PR systems have a positive effect on women's representation due to a more inclusive candidate selection process. However, analyzing the actual process of candidate selection under PR before observing the final party-list is challenging and little is known about the preferences and strategies of party elites when selecting and ranking candidates. To address this problem, we conduct a novel two-stage conjoint experiment with party elites in Austria. The experiment allows us to analyze gendered patterns of candidate selection and list composition under PR. Our findings indicate that women have an advantage in the candidate selection process. However, a closer inspection reveals subtle, yet important, differences in gender selection preferences between male and female party elites. These findings have important implications for understanding patterns of female underrepresentation in PR systems.
Women have become increasingly visible and influential in politics over the past 50 years. In this paper, we focus on the electoral effects of the feminization of party leadership by studying electoral realignment in response to the selection of women as party leaders and lead candidates. We argue that the effects of parties’ choice of personnel from underrepresented groups unfolds via two avenues: First, as a signal of inclusion, it may broaden parties’ appeal to liberal voters; secondly, by group-specific descriptive representation, it allows parties’ to appeal to voters from specific demographic groups. We test the dynamic effects of the selection of female lead personnel using three empirical approaches: Changes in parties’ vote shares, general and gender-specific patterns of vote switching in comparative perspective, and a series of quasi-experimental case studies using multi-wave pre-election surveys. By producing new and nuanced insights into the electoral effects of parties’ choice of lead personnel, our findings yield notable implications at the intersection of party politics, party competition, and representation.
Much work has been done on the gender composition of parliaments but less is know about access and position of female MPs to/in parliamentary committees. These committees exert important policy-making powers in many parliamentary democracies. We show that access to committees is gendered, and women are less likely to become members and chairs of more important committees such as finance or economics. We argue that this gendered access is not merely explainable by factors such as competence, expertise and experience but also due to potential self-selection and discrimination. We propose theoretical and empirical ways to distinguish the two. We test our arguments with unique individual level data on MPs of the German Bundestag and state parliaments since 1948. Our results show that there is gender bias in access and composition of legislative committees that is somewhat mitigated by experience and expertise of MPs. Our results help linking aspects of descriptive representation of women and their ability to influence policy-decisions.