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Contagious RepresentationWomen's Political Representation in Democracies around the World$
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Frank C. Thames and Margaret S. Williams

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780814784174

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814784174.001.0001

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Understanding Women’s Legislative Representation

Understanding Women’s Legislative Representation

(p.14) 2 Understanding Women’s Legislative Representation
Contagious Representation

Frank C. Thames

Margaret S. Williams

NYU Press

This chapter examines the factors that explain women's representation in the legislature, distinguishing between the short- and long-term effects of critical variables as seen through a statistical analysis of the patterns of women's representation between 1945 and 2006. The results show that the factors that increase women's representation operate over the long term. Over the long term, increases in the number of years since universal suffrage increase the number of female legislators. Short-term factors impact women's representation as well. These include changes in the electoral system, the level of female labor force participation, and the adoption of a reserved-seat quota. With regard to contagion, the analysis found strong evidence that contagion in the form of both national quotas and voluntary party quotas can increase women's legislative representation. However, there is little evidence that the election of a female executive impacts women's legislative representation.

Keywords:   women's representation, legislature, universal suffrage, female legislators, electoral system, female labor force, reserved-seat quota, contagion

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