The Representation of Women in National Parliaments: A Cross-national Comparison

Ruedin, Didier

In: European Sociological Review, 2012, vol. 28, no. 1, p. 96-109

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    Women's representation in national parliaments is examined using a large cross-national sample. Initially, the article seems to confirm previous findings that the electoral formula and quotas are good predictors for the proportion of women in parliament. In line with some recent contributions, this article finds that the proportion of women in parliament is explicable in terms of culture—particularly attitudes towards women as political leaders. It appears that regional differences reflect differences in attitudes relevant to women's political representation. Drawing on recent developments on gender quotas and insights on the influence of attitudes on gender representation, in this article, quotas and measured attitudes are considered at the same time. Once controlling for regional or cultural differences, the provision of voluntary party quotas does not appear to be significant at the national level. The results are tested for robustness over time, and using a subsample of OECD countries. This article provides further evidence for a strong association between cultural factors and the proportion of women in parliament