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The Consequences of Quotas: Assessing the Effect of Varied Gender Quotas on Legislator Experience in the European Parliament

  • Andrea S. Aldrich (a1) and William T. Daniel (a2)


This article explores the consequences of quotas on the level of diversity observed in legislators’ professional and political experience. We examine how party system and electoral system features that are meant to favor female representation, such as gender quotas for candidate selection or placement mandates on electoral lists, affect the composition of legislatures by altering the mix of professional and political qualifications held by its members. Using data collected for all legislators initially seated to the current session of the European Parliament, one of the largest and most diverse democratically elected legislatures in the world, we find that quotas eliminate gendered differences in experience within the institution, particularly when used in conjunction with placement mandates that ensure female candidates are featured on electoral lists in viable positions. Electoral institutions can generally help to “level the playing field” between the backgrounds of men and women in elected office while increasing the presence of desirable qualities among European Parliament representatives of both genders.

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