Skip to main content

“Which Men?” How an Intersectional Perspective on Men and Masculinities Helps Explain Women's Political Underrepresentation

  • Sarah Childs (a1) and Melanie Hughes (a2)

Progress toward gender equality in politics is striking. With the help of electoral gender quotas in more than 130 countries, women's national legislative representation more than doubled in the last 20 years. Other historically marginalized groups—racial, ethnic, and religious minorities, immigrants, and indigenous peoples—are also increasingly making their way into our parliaments. Political institutions are, then, more inclusive today than they have ever been. Yet equal representation has not been fully realized: some marginalized groups have seen a decline, and men from dominant social and economic groups—hereafter “elite men”—remain numerically dominant. Globally, there are no known cases in which elite men do not hold a disproportionately high share of positions in national elective office (Hughes 2015).

Hide All
Celis, Karen, Erzeel, Silvia, Mügge, Liza, and Damstra, Alyt. 2014. “Quotas and Intersectionality: Ethnicity and Gender in Candidate Selection.” International Political Science Review 35 (1): 4154.
Childs, Sarah. 2004. New Labour's Women MPs: Women Representing Women. London: Routledge.
Childs, Sarah, and Webb, Paul. 2012. Sex, Gender and the Conservative Party: From Iron Lady to Kitten Heels. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Connell, Raewyn, and Messerschmidt, James W.. 2005. “Hegemonic Masculinity Rethinking the Concept.” Gender & Society 19 (6): 829–59.
Crenshaw, Kimberle. 1989. “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscriminiation Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics.” University of Chicago Legal Forum 1989 (1): 139–67.
Heath, Oliver. 2015. “Policy Representation, Social Representation and Class Voting in Britain.” British Journal of Political Science 45 (1): 173193.
The Hindu. 2015. “Women's Reservation Bill: The Story So Far.” March 7. (accessed April 5, 2018).
Htun, Mala. 2004. “Is Gender Like Ethnicity? The Political Representation of Identity Groups.” Perspectives on Politics 2 (3): 439–58.
Hughes, Melanie M. 2011. “Intersectionality, Quotas, and Minority Women's Political Representation Worldwide.” American Political Science Review 105 (3): 604‒20.
Hughes, Melanie M. 2015. “Single-Axis Politics: Explaining the Persistent Political Overrepresentation of Men from Majority Racial and Ethnic Groups.” Presented at the ECPR Joint Sessions of Workshops, Warsaw, Poland, March 29–April 2.
Jaffrelot, Christophe, and Verniers, Gilles. 2014. “The Representation Gap.” Indian Express, July 24. (accessed March 22, 2018).
Jensenius, Francesca R. 2016. “Competing Inequalities? On the Intersection of Gender and Ethnicity in Candidate Nominations in Indian Elections.” Government and Opposition 51 (3): 440–46.
McCall, Leslie. 2005. “The Complexity of Intersectionality.” Signs 30 (3): 17711800.
Randall, Vicky. 2006. “Legislative Gender Quotas and Indian Exceptionalism: The Travails of the Women's Reservation Bill.” Comparative Politics 39 (1): 6382.
Smooth, Wendy. 2011. “Standing for Women? Which Women? The Substantive Representation of Women's Interests and the Research Imperative of Intersectionality.” Politics & Gender 7 (3): 436–41.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Politics & Gender
  • ISSN: 1743-923X
  • EISSN: 1743-9248
  • URL: /core/journals/politics-and-gender
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed