2018 Student Research Conference:
31st Annual Student Research Conference

Why the Gap: Explaining Gender Inequality in Legislatures


Ashleigh McDonald
Dr. Meg Edwards, Faculty Mentor

The research on what leads to a high number of women in a legislature is consistently inconsistent. Researchers frequently argue that socioeconomic, political, and cultural factors influence the level of female political representation. This paper continues in that tradition, drawing from those theoretical camps, as well as historic arguments, to determine why some countries have more women in their legislatures than others. Previous research has considered factors in various combinations, but none have explored the symbolic importance of a female head of state position and how it might influence the number of women in the legislature. This paper indicates that such a relationship might exist and is worthy of being explored further. These findings suggest that in addition to the current quantitative methods, a qualitative approach that takes into account concepts like symbolism might enhance our understanding as to what leads to greater numbers of women in a legislature.

Keywords: Women in Legislatures, Equality, Gender Gap, Symbolism

Topic(s):Political Science

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 308-1
Location: VH 1010
Time: 1:00

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