Men are overrepresented in most legislatures of the world. However, in parliaments in which women reach a “critical mass” or even approach parity with men in terms of numbers, they still must contend with and adapt to the symbolic representation of men. Using the cases of the Australian and Polish parliaments, we point to the need to deconstruct the parliamentary standard by shifting the theoretical and empirical focus from women's disadvantage in politics to problematizing men's advantage and power (Eveline 1994, 1998; Murray 2014). Rather than placing the problem and solution with women, we address the practices that maintain men's unearned power, or privilege. Privilege is the “systematically conferred advantages” that individuals enjoy by virtue of their membership of a dominant social group (Bailey 1998, 109). Institutions in the form of taken-for-granted practices and gendered discourses embed a “masculine blueprint” in political institutions that legitimizes men's place as parliamentarians and privileges men, enhancing their power and advantage in the election process. By focusing on men's dominance, it becomes evident that sustaining gender inequality through practices and discourse advantages men as a group.
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