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Contagious Representation

Women’s Political Representation in Democracies around the World

Frank C. Thames

Publication Year: 2013

Women’s participation in parliaments, high courts, and executive offices worldwide has reached record high numbers, but this global increase in women’s representation masks significant variation among different democratic political systems. For example, in December of 2009, Rwanda’s legislature contained 56% women, while the U.S. Congress contained only about 17% and the Japanese Diet had only 11%. Since 2000, only twenty-seven women have achieved executive office worldwide. Contagious Representation is a comprehensive look at women’s participation in all aspects of public life in the main democratic political institutions—the executive, the judiciary, the legislature, and within political parties.
Moving beyond studies of single countries and institutions, Contagious Representation presents original data from 159 democratic countries spanning 50 years, providing a comprehensive understanding of women in democracies worldwide. The first volume to offer an analysis on all avenues for women’s participation for such a lengthy time period, Contagious Representation examines not only the causes of women’s representation in the main democratic political institutions but also how women’s representation in one institution affects the others. Each chapter contains case studies and examples of the change in women’s participation over time from around the world. Thames and Williams definitively explain the rise, decline, or stagnant levels of women’s political participation, considering how representation is contagious across political institutions and gaining a better understanding of what factors affect women’s political participation.

Published by: NYU Press


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

T_he authors owe a debt of gratitude to the many individuals who made this project possible. Jan Box-Stef_fensmeier kindly answered many methods questions. Laron Williams gave us critical advice on several of our statisti-cal models. Melinda Adams gave us excellent feedback on earlier versions of our study. Both Lauren Bell and David Williams provided feedback on ...

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1. Women’s Political Participation and the Influence of Contagion

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pp. 1-13

We are currently experiencing the greatest level of women?s political repre-sentation the world has ever seen. Women constituted 1eight.oldstyle percent of mem-bers of parliaments in 200nine.oldstyle (Inter-Parliamentary Union 200nine.oldstyle). Since 2000, twenty-seven women have achieved executive of_f_ice worldwide (see Jalalzai 200eight.oldstyle). Twenty-three percent of the seats on national high courts are now ...

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2. Understanding Women’s Legislative Representation

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pp. 14-38

In 1nine.oldstyle1seven.oldstyle, three years before the adoption of the 1nine.oldstyleth Amendment that pro-hibited voting restrictions based on gender, Jeannette Rankin of Montana became the f_irst female member of the U.S House of Representatives. Two years later, in 1nine.oldstyle1nine.oldstyle, Viscountess Nancy Witchter Astor won a by-election to replace her husband as the Member of Parliament from Plymouth Sut-...

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3. Women and the Executive

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pp. 39-59

Women?s participation in executive of_f_ice is perhaps one of the most mis-leading areas to study in women?s political life. High-prof_ile cases of female prime ministers and presidents seem to date back fairly far, with the f_irst female prime minister serving as long ago as 1nine.oldstylesix.oldstyle0. Moreover, the women serving in these high-prof_ile positions are well-known politicians, including ...

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4. Gender and Cross-National Courts

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pp. 60-75

With the conf_irmation of Elena Kagan as Associate Justice, in 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court for the f_irst time in history included three women. Given that only four women have ever served on the Court in its long history, the dra-matic increase from 11 percent female to 33 percent female under the Obama administration is noteworthy. President George W. Bush had several oppor-...

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5. Contagion and the Adoption of Voluntary Party Quotas

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pp. 76-99

At a November 200eight.oldstyle meeting of the National Women?s Council in Dub-lin, Ireland, Margot Wallstr?m, vice president of the European Commis-sion, expressed her support for gender quotas, stating that ?Quotas are not an of_fence to women as we have enough qualif_ied people among us; they re-balance an imbalance that comes with men choosing men? (Newenham ...

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6. Contagion and the Adoption of National Quotas

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pp. 100-126

In 2000, the warring factions in Burundi?s civil war signed a peace agree-ment in Arusha, Tanzania. T_he Arusha Accord ended a nearly decade-long civil war in which thousands of people died and many more thousands were displaced. Peace led to the writing of a new constitution, which was approved by referendum in February 200five.oldstyle. Article 1six.oldstylefour.oldstyle of the new constitution erected ...

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7. Conclusion: Why Contagion Matters

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pp. 127-132

T_his book set out to examine the inf_luences of contagion on women?s politi-cal representation. As we have def_ined it here, contagion is the inf_luence of women?s participation and political gains in one institution on others. To ex-amine these inf_luences, we studied legislatures, executive of_f_ices, high courts, and the adoption of voluntary and compulsory quotas in democracies across ...

Appendix 1: Cases in Legislative Analysis

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pp. 133-134

Appendix 2: Cases in Executive Analysis

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pp. 135-137

Appendix 3: Female Executives by Country

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pp. 138-151

Appendix 4: Cases in Courts Analysis

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pp. 139-140

Appendix 5: Parties with Quotas

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pp. 141-144

Appendix 6: Cases in Voluntary Party Quota Analysis

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pp. 145-146

Appendix 7: National Quotas

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pp. 147-160

Appendix 8: Cases in National Quota Analysis

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pp. 148-150


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pp. 151-154


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pp. 155-170


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pp. 171-173

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About the Authors

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pp. 174-187

Frank C. T_hames is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Sci-Margaret S. Williams is a Senior Research Associate at the Federal Judicial T_he views expressed represent those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Federal Judicial Center. Author order is alphabetical. Both authors ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780814784181
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814784174
Print-ISBN-10: 0814784178

Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 825978017
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Contagious Representation

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Women -- Political activity.
  • Women in public life.
  • Representative government and representation.
  • Democratization.
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