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Quotas for Men: Reframing Gender Quotas as a Means of Improving Representation for All


Gender quotas traditionally focus on the underrepresentation of women. Conceiving of quotas in this way perpetuates the status of men as the norm and women as the “other.” Women are subject to heavy scrutiny of their qualifications and competence, whereas men's credentials go unchallenged. This article calls for a normative shift in the problem of overrepresentation, arguing that the quality of representation is negatively affected by having too large a group drawn from too narrow a talent pool. Curbing overrepresentation through ceiling quotas for men offers three core benefits. First, it promotes meritocracy by ensuring the proper scrutiny of politicians of both sexes. Second, it provides an impetus for improving the criteria used to select and evaluate politicians. Third, neutralizing the overly masculinized environment within parliaments might facilitate better substantive and symbolic representation of both men and women. All citizens would benefit from these measures to increase the quality of representation.

Corresponding author
Rainbow Murray, Queen Mary University of London (
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