Women in High-Level Politics: The Role of Path Dependence

Authors: Ekaterina R. Rashkova | Published in: working paper series on the legal regulation of political parties, no. 28, January. | Date of publication: 2013

Gender inequality is a known phenomenon in many spheres in life; yet, it is especially conspicuous in high-level governmental positions. Men tend to get elected more and more often to posts of vast political importance. In comparison to established democratic countries, the gender gap in high-level political positions is larger in developing democracies. Extant scholarship suggests however, that the gender gap is reduced by democracy and democratic practices of inclusion and equality. If true, this would indicate that we should see a closing of the gender gap as democracies mature. Further, if such a relationship does not exist, this would suggest that factors other than democratic practices are at play when it comes to choosing between a man and a woman for high-level office. The hypothesis is tested on data from new and established European and Latin American democracies. The results show that the time since the first woman was elected to office and the number of women in parliament are the two strongest predictors of the appointment of female ministers, as well as the percent of female cabinet members. Additionally, the analysis demonstrates that women are more likely to be appointed to ministerial posts when political parties are more heavily regulated, while economic and party system variables seem not to have a real effect.

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