Descriptive Representation

Leslie A. Schwindt-Bayer

in Political Power and Women’s Representation in Latin America

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780199731954
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199866571 | DOI:
Descriptive Representation

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Why do more women get elected to Latin American legislatures today than 30 years ago and why are more women elected in some countries than others? This chapter examines how formal representation affects descriptive representation of women focusing on the proportionality of electoral rules and electoral gender quotas. It presents a statistical analysis with data on 18 Latin American democracies from 1974 (or the year of democratic transition) through 2007. It shows that large district magnitudes, large party magnitudes, and gender quotas are the most important explanations for the varying percentage of women in office. Further, it shows that the design of gender quota laws matters—quotas that require larger percentages of positions on party ballots to be female, that mandate that women be placed in winnable positions on party lists, and that provide mechanisms for enforcing quotas get more women into office than weaker quota laws.

Keywords: women; formal representation; descriptive representation; Latin America; gender quotas; district magnitude; party magnitude; institutions; electoral rules

Chapter.  9520 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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