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Are Parties Equally Responsive to Women and Men?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 August 2017


This article explores (1) whether policy makers are equally responsive to the preferences of women and men and (2) whether the increased presence of women in parliament improves responsiveness to women’s preferences. Using a time-series cross-sectional analysis of 351 party shifts by sixty-eight different parties across twelve Western European countries, the study finds that parties respond to the preference shifts of women and men. However, parties are more responsive to the preference shifts among men than among women – a finding that is not affected by the share of female politicians in parliament. The findings question the implicit assumption that substantive political representation of women necessarily follows from their descriptive representation in legislatures.

© Cambridge University Press 2017 

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Department of Political Science, Washington University in St. Louis (email: The author would like to thank Ian Budge, Lawrence Ezrow, Jeff Gill, Matt Golder, Sona Golder, Belen Gonzalez, Zachary Greene, Onawa Lacewell, Diana O’Brien, Margit Tavits, Michelle Torres, Annika Werner and Carla Xena for comments on earlier drafts of this article. The author would also like to thank Shaun Bowler and the anonymous reviewers. Data replication sets are available in Harvard Dataverse at: doi:10.7910/DVN/K1TVXL and online appendices are available at


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