Hostname: page-component-594f858ff7-hf9kg Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-06-09T16:49:54.467Z Has data issue: false Feature Flags: { "corePageComponentGetUserInfoFromSharedSession": true, "coreDisableEcommerce": false, "corePageComponentUseShareaholicInsteadOfAddThis": true, "coreDisableSocialShare": false, "useRatesEcommerce": true } hasContentIssue false

Second Among Unequals? A Study of Whether France's “Quota Women” are Up to the Job

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 March 2010

Rainbow Murray
Queen Mary, University of London


The introduction of France's “parity” law in 2000 raised fears of electing inferior women candidates via a gender quota. France has since held two legislative elections, with the proportion of women in parliament rising from 10.9% to 12.3% in 2002, and 18.5% in 2007. These rises permit an empirical evaluation of whether “quota women” measure up to those elected without a quota. New women parliamentarians are compared to their male counterparts and to women elected before 2002 to see whether there are any noticeable differences in their background (profession, age, and prior experience) and their levels of parliamentary activity (including numbers of bills, reports, and questions introduced).

The findings challenge the notion that parity is producing weak politicians. The slightly different profiles of men and women politicians reflect wider barriers to women's political careers that would not have been overcome without the parity law. Once women are elected, the volume of activity shows no evidence of being gendered, suggesting that women are as effective in the job as men. These findings imply that sex is a barrier to entry but not to performance, reinforcing claims for the use of quotas to overcome entry barriers and negating claims that quotas produce second-rate parliamentarians.

Research Article
Copyright © The Women and Politics Research Section of the American Political Science Association 2010

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



Achin, Catherine. 2005. “Le Mystère de la Chambre Basse.” Comparaison des Processus d'Entrée des Femmes au Parlement France-Allemagne 19452000. Paris: Dalloz.Google Scholar
Amar, Michelin, ed. 1999. Le Piège de la Parité: Arguments pour un Débat. Paris: Hachette.Google Scholar
Bacchi, Carol. 2006. “Arguing For and Against Quotas: Theoretical Issues.” In Women, Quotas and Politics, ed. Dahlerup, Drude. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
Baldez, Lisa. 2006. “The Pros and Cons of Gender Quota Laws: What Happens When You Kick Men Out and Let Women In?Politics & Gender 2 (1): 102–9.Google Scholar
Bataille, Phillipe, and Gaspard, Françoise. 1999. Comment les Femmes Changent la Politique et Pourquoi les Hommes Resistent. Paris: La Découverte.Google Scholar
Bird, Karen. 2004. “Who Are the Women? Where Are the Women? And What Difference Can They Make? Effects of Gender Parity in French Municipal Elections.” French Politics 1 (1): 538.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Childs, Sarah. 2004. Women Representing Women: New Labour's Women MPs. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
Dahlerup, Drude. 1988. “From a Small to a Large Minority: Women in Scandinavian Politics.” Scandinavian Political Studies. 11 (4): 275–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dahlerup, Drude, ed. 2006. Women, Quotas and Politics. New York and London: Routledge.Google Scholar
Franceschet, Susan, and Piscopo, Jennifer. 2008. “Gender Quotas and Women's Substantive Representation: Lessons from Argentina”. Politics & Gender 4 (3): 393426.Google Scholar
Gaspard, Françoise, ed. 1997. Les Femmes dans la Prise de Décision en France et en Europe. Paris: Editions l'Harmattan.Google Scholar
Gaspard, Françoise, Servan-Schreiber, Claude, and Le Gall, Anne. 1992. Au Pouvoir Citoyennes! Liberté, Égalité, Parité. Paris: Le Seuil.Google Scholar
Green, Amanda Dawn. 2004. Women and the National Assembly in France: An Analysis of Institutional Change and Substantive Representation, with Particular Reference to the 1997–2002 Legislature. Ph.D. diss., University of Stirling.Google Scholar
Guigou, Elisabeth. 1997. Etre Femme en Politique. Paris: Plon.Google Scholar
Halimi, Gisèle, ed. 1994. Femmes: Moitié de la Terre, Moitié du Pouvoir. Paris: Editions Gallimard.Google Scholar
Karam, Azza. 1999. “Beijing + 5: Women's Political Participation: Review of Strategies and Trends.” Presented at the meeting on women and political participation, UNDP, New Delhi, India.Google Scholar
Karam, Azza, ed. 2002. Women in Politics: Beyond Numbers. 2d ed.Stockholm: International IDEA.Google Scholar
Kolinsky, Eva. 1993. Women in Contemporary Germany: Life, Work and Politics. Oxford: Berg.Google Scholar
Krook, Mona Lena. 2004. “Gender Quotas as a Global Phenomenon: Actors and Strategies in Quota Adoption.” European Political Science 3 (3): 5965.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Krook, Mona Lena. 2006a. “Gender Quotas, Norms, and Politics.” Politics & Gender 2 (1): 110–8.Google Scholar
Krook, Mona Lena. 2006b. “Reforming Representation: The Diffusion of Candidate Gender Quotas Worldwide.” Politics & Gender 2 (3): 303–27.Google Scholar
Krook, Mona Lena. 2008. “Quota Laws for Women in Politics: Implications for Feminist Practice.” Social Politics 15 (3): 345–68.Google Scholar
Lagrave, Rose-Marie. 2000. “Une Étrange Défaite. La Loi Constitutionelle sur la Parité.” Politix 13 (51): 113–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lazardeux, Sébastien. 2005. “‘Une Question Écrite, Pour Quoi Faire?’ The Causes of the Production of Written Questions in the French Assemblée Nationale.” French Politics 3: 258–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lovenduski, Joni. 2005. Feminizing Politics. Cambridge, UK: Polity.Google Scholar
Mossuz-Lavau, Janine. 1998. Femmes/Hommes pour la Parité. Paris: Presses de Sciences-Po.Google Scholar
Murray, Rainbow. 2004. “Why Didn't Parity Work? A Closer Examination of the 2002 Election Results.” French Politics 2 (3): 347–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Murray, Rainbow. 2008a. Evaluating Competing Models of Party Behavior: A Study of Sex and Candidate Selection in France. Ph.D diss., University of London.Google Scholar
Murray, Rainbow. 2008b. “The Power of Sex and Incumbency: A Study of Longitudinal Electoral Performance in France.” Party Politics 14 (5): 539–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Murray, Rainbow, and Perry, Sheila. 2008. “A Right Royal Mess: Why Did the French Say ‘Non’ to the Opportunity of Having a Woman President?” Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Boston.Google Scholar
National Assembly. 2008. (Accessed August 6 through August 30, 2008).Google Scholar
Opello, Katherine. 2006. Gender Quotas, Parity Reform and Political Parties in France. Oxford: Lexington.Google Scholar
Pionchon, Sylvie, and Derville, Grégory. 2004. Les Femmes et la Politique. Grenoble: Presses Universitaires de Grenoble.Google Scholar
Roudy, Yvette. 1995. Mais de Quoi Ont-Ils Peur? Un Vent de Misogynie Souffle sur la Politique. Paris: A. Michel.Google Scholar
Scott, Joan Wallach. 2005. Parité: Sexual Equality and the Crisis of French Universalism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sineau, Mariette. 2001. Profession: Femme Politique. Sexe et Pouvoir sous la Cinquième Republique. Paris: Presses de Sciences Po.Google Scholar
Sineau, Mariette, and Tiberj, Vincent. 2007. “Candidats et Députés en 2002: Une Approche Sociale de la Représentation.” Revue Française de Science Politique 57 (2): 163–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Stevens, Anne. 2003. Government and Politics of France. 3d ed.Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Troupel, Aurélia. 2002. “Pistes et Matériaux: Disparités dans la Parité. Les Stratégies de Contournement de la Parité dans le Département des Alpes-Maritimes.” Politix 15 (60): 147–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Zetterberg, Pär. 2008a. “The Downside of Gender Quotas? Institutional Constraints on Women in Mexican State Legislatures.” Parliamentary Affairs 61 (3): 442–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Zetterberg, Pär. 2008b. “The Impact of Candidate Selection on ‘Quota Women's’ Legislative Behavior: Towards a Theoretical Framework.” Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago.Google Scholar
Zimmerman, Marie-Jo. 2003a. Pourquoi la Parité en Politique Reste-Elle un Enjeu pour la Démocratie Française? Report for l'Observatoire de la Parité. Documentation Française.Google Scholar
Zimmerman, Marie-Jo. 2003b. Elections à Venir: Faire Vivre la Parité. Report for l'Observatoire de la Parité. Documentation Française.Google Scholar