Should there be quotas for women in politics?

  • February 10, 2012
Should there be quotas for women in politics?

A new book, co-authored by alumna Jennifer Piscopo, looks at quotas for women in politics.

The first comparative, multi-country study of the impact of gender quotas in politics, co-edited by a Gates alumna, has been published this month.
Jennifer Piscopo, Co-Chair of the Gates Scholars Alumni Association, co-authored The Impact of Gender Quotas, which is published by Oxford University Press.
The book bridges literatures of gender quotas and women’s political representation and uses case studies from twelve countries around the world to build broad theories about gender quotas and women’s representation.
The publisher says up to now research on gender quotas has focused primarily on quota design, adoption, and effects on the numbers of women elected. The book “seeks to initiate a ‘second generation’ of research on quotas, this volume is an effort to inspire a new literature focused on theorising and studying the broader impact of quotas on politics and society”.
It has already won praise from experts in the field. Anne-Marie Goetz, Chief Advisor of Governance, Peace and Security, United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, called it an “impressive” collection which “greatly advances the field of electoral quota research”. She says it shows clearly that gender quotas will not work to shift the quality of public decision-making towards advancing women’s interests without strengthening women’s autonomous organising so it can hold politicians to account for their performance on women’s rights and without ensuring a political leadership which is willing to make women’s participation and gender equality principles non-negotiable in public decision-making.
Jennifer [2002], who did an MPhil in Latin American Studies at the University of Cambridge, says: “Quotas for women in politics have diffused worldwide, and have frequently triggered much larger public debates about the role of women in leadership.  We are now seeing quotas for cabinet ministers and corporate boards, as elites and citizens recognise that our democracies are incomplete without women at the helm. We hope this volume will deepen the discussion, in particular because we falsify many of the arguments against quotas, especially the myth that women promoted under quotas are not qualified or deserving of their posts. Indeed, women are more than prepared for leadership, and quotas are needed to overturn long-standing practices of discrimination.”

Picture credit: vegadsl and www.freedigitalphotos.com

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