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The Effect of Electing Women on Future Female Candidate Selection Patterns: Findings from a Regression Discontinuity Design

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 June 2019

Michael Jankowski
University of Oldenburg
Kamil Marcinkiewicz
University of Oldenburg
Anna Gwiazda
King's College London


In this article, we address the question of how electing women to national or subnational parliaments affects future female candidate selection in an open-list proportional representation system, using the example of Poland. We consider three potential effects of electing a woman. First, based on existing theories of the incumbency advantage, elected women should have higher chances of reselection and reelection in future elections (incumbency effect). Second, as a result of becoming more powerful within their party, elected women might have a stronger influence on future list composition, and thus more women should run for office on these lists (empowerment effect). Finally, we argue that other parties might adjust their candidate selection patterns in response to the election of women on other party lists (contagion effect). We find strong evidence for the incumbency effect and some support for the contagion effect. The empowerment hypothesis, however, finds no empirical support.

Research Article
Copyright © The Women and Politics Research Section of the American Political Science Association 2019 

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We are grateful to three anonymous reviewers of Politics & Gender; to Sarah Dingler, Florian Foos, and Corinna Kroeber; and to the audience of the panel “Electoral Systems and Women's Representation” at the European Consortium for Political Research General Conference 2018 in Hamburg for providing extremely helpful comments on earlier versions of this manuscript. The usual disclaimer applies.


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