Women in the Legislatures and Executives of the World: Knocking at the Highest Glass Ceiling
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 13 June 2011
This article reports the results of a survey of women in legislatures and executives around the world as they were constituted in 1998 (N = 180). The chief hypotheses regarding the factors hindering or facilitating women's access to political representation were tested by multivariate regression models. The regression models juxtaposed a cocktail of institutional, political, cultural, and socioeconomic variables with the following dependent variables: (1) the percentage of MPs who are women and (2) the percentage of cabinet ministers who are women.
A number, although not all, of the cited hypotheses were statistically confirmed and more finely quantified. The socioeconomic development of women in society has an effect on the number of women in parliament but not in the cabinet. A country's length of experience with multipartyism and women's enfranchisement correlates with both the legislative and the executive percentage. Certain electoral systems are more women friendly than others. The ideological nature of the party system affects the number of women elected and chosen for cabinet posts. And last, the state's dominant religion, taken as a proxy for culture, also statistically relates to the number of women who will make it to high political office. However, other long-held hypotheses were not proved. The degree of democracy is not a good indicator of the percentage of women who will make it into the legislature or the cabinet, nor is the dichotomy between a presidential or parliamentary system.
- Research Article
- Copyright © Trustees of Princeton University 1999
1 In 1998 the Women's Environmental and Development Organization argued that “the entry of women in greater numbers to electoral politics is a sign that it is the beginning of the end of tokenism.” See WEDO, Mapping Progress: Assessing Implementation of the Beijing Platform 1998 (New York: WEDO, 1998)Google Scholar.
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45 Indeed, the same pattern was repeated in the number of women in legislatures.
46 I was able to categorize 278 (or 92 percent) of the 302 women cabinet ministers by portfolio. In all these 278 women held 358 portfolios.
47 Gr o Harlem Brundtland's father was finance minister in the Labor government in Norway in the 1950s and 1960s.
48 Reynolds et al. (fn. 26). Electoral systems relate to the system used for the election upon which the legislative data were based; the categorizations were updated from the 1997 IDEA study. Two cases within the study do not have directly elected national parliaments. China was categorized as SNTV be-cause that is the system used at the provincial level, while the United Arab Emirates was categorized as FPTP because it has been used for some elections within the state.
49 Laakso, Markku and Taagepera, Rein, “'Effective' Number of Parties: A Measure with Application to West Europe,” Comparative Political Studies 12, no. 1 (1979)CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Because no political parties exist in 18 of the 180 cases, the ENPP could not be calculated. These cases were dropped from the legislative model.
50 In eight cases the president is not directly chosen by the people through multiparty elections, but the system resembles a presidential system nevertheless.
52 In the few cases where the left vote percentage was unavailable, the left vote seat share was used as a proxy.
53 The GRDl incorporates measures of the differences between women and men when it comes to life expectancy, literacy, education, and earned income. The disparities are then applied against the UNDP's Human Development Index (HDl) to produce the GRDl. In the cases where the UNDP does not measure GRDl, the HDI score was used as a proxy, as the two measures are autocorrelated. In the few cases where neither the GRDl or the HDI exists, a regional average was applied.
56 An examination of influence diagnostics provides some inconclusive evidence that the effect of the Eastern Orthodox dummy may not be entirely robust. There were some cases (Sweden, France, Romania, Georgia, Ukraine, and Ecuador ) with large dfbetas. When each outlier was removed individually, the measure retained its significance (except when either Romania or Georgia was removed). Nevertheless, there is no theoretic justification for excluding these cases from the sample.
57 Countries classified as dominantly “other” religions are not significantly different from Catholic countries in this model when one removes the outliers: Sweden, Norway, Finland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Seychelles, Mozambique, China, Suriname, St. Kitts, Albania, the Isle of Man, Bangladesh, India, Tuvalu, Israel, Andorra, Malta, Cameroon, Ecuador, and Nepal. When each outlier is removed individually, this measure retains its significance except when either China, Suriname, Israel, or Andorra is removed (that is, when any of these four cases is not included in the sample, “other” countries are not significantly different from Catholic countries in this model).