There are few political phenomena as universal as the political under-representation of women.
The emergence of women’s representation as an important political issue is matched by a large and wide-ranging body of work in feminist political science that has sought to understand why women are under-represented in political office and how numerical increases in women’s political presence might be achieved.
The majority of work in this area continues to focus on women representatives in parliaments and legislatures, documenting women’s numerical presence and identifying the institutional and/or sociological variables that influence the likelihood of their being present.
Others ask whether women politicians ‘make a difference’ once they are actually in office, exploring whether increases in women’s numerical representation (descriptive representation) result in increases in attention to women’s policy concerns (substantive representation) or changes in the perceptions, attitudes and behaviour of women citizens (symbolic representation).
This work is supplemented by a rapidly growing body of research on the origins and impact of gender quotas, as the most visible and direct mechanisms used to increase women’s political presence.
This section welcomes panels and papers that contribute to research and knowledge about all facets of women’s political representation.
Papers may be theoretical or empirical, and may consider women’s political participation in political parties, as candidates for office and as elected representatives; as well as strategies for increasing women’s numerical presence, including gender quotas.
While parliaments and legislatures remain an important site of representation, we would also welcome papers exploring different branches of politics (e.g. executive or judicial branches), as well as local, regional, national and transnational levels.
We also invite submissions that explore the links between descriptive and substantive representation and the outputs of the representative process.
Papers that seek to contribute new frameworks and methodological approaches to the study of women, gender and political representation would be particularly welcomed.