The diffusion of gender quotas reflects the legitimation of the normative principle of women's equality in public life. Legislative gender quotas, whether adopted through top-down elite decision making or through bottom-up feminist activism, are frequently justified via appeals to norms of inclusion and fairness. These democratic ideals of women's full representation and participation have indeed gained traction: Over the past two decades, quotas have extended beyond legislatures to public institutions, such as cabinets and executive agencies, and to state advisory councils, subnational governments, labor union directorates, and corporate boards. Such diffusion signals a profound gendering of public space and leadership, a transformation initiated by states assuming active roles as the guarantors—rather than mere promoters—of equality.
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