Women in Politics in Comparative Perspective 

This is a substantive course that examines, in cross-national perspective, current developments in the field of women in politics. Women comprise half the population of almost every country in the world, yet they have less political power than men: taking the world average, women make up fewer than 19 percent of all parliamentarians. In European OSCE countries, the average is slightly higher, above 21 percent. International organizations and politicians debate the causes and consequences of, and solutions to, women’s political inequality. Reflecting the growing interest in the contribution of women to political decision-making, the last two decades have seen social scientists, sociologists and political scientists especially, devoting more and more attention to understanding the factors that contribute to women’s larger involvement in politics, as well as the consequences of their participation. This course builds on state-of-the-art research in political sociology and political science to analyze the main concepts, theories and empirical studies that explain trends in women’s engagement with politics, and the extent of their representation in legislative arenas.  Special attention is given to issues of women in politics in post-communist countries. 

The basic outline of the course is as follows: 

1.  Overview

     (a) Trends in Women’s Political Citizenship and Representation in Cross-National Perspective

     (b) Sources of Data, Publications, Advocacy Organizations and Professional Associations 

2.  The Concept of Representation: Theoretical Traditions and Normative Concerns 

3.  Masses and Movements

      (a) Women’s Political Citizenship Movements in the 20th and 21st Century

      (b) Trends in Women’s Political Participation

      (c)  “Gender Gap” in Voting 

4.  Macro-Level Influences on Women’s Representation

      (a)  Structural (Role of Economic Development and Labor Force Participation)

      (b)  Ideological/Cultural (Gender Traditionalism, Religion, and Nationalism)

      (c)  Political (How Type of Political System Influences Representation, Level of Democracy) 

5.  Micro-Macro Processes

      (a)  Party Ideology and the Role of Political Parties

      (b)  Supply and Demand in the Political Market

      (c)  Unequal Candidate Lists 

6.  Quotas

      (a)  Types of Quotas and Their Effectiveness

      (b)  Who Supports Quotas and Why

      (c)  Role of Male Parliamentarians 

7.  Impact of Women on Politics

      (a)  Where and How Women Impact Politics

      (b)  Critical Mass Arguments 

8.  Women in Politics and Intersectionality  

9.  Future Trends

      (a)  Fast Track vs. Incremental Track and Arguments over “Reasonable Progress”

      (b)  EU Gender Mainstreaming Initiatives 

Course Objectives 

This thorough examination of the field of women in politics is designed to meet the following goals: 

(a)  Familiarize students with the trends in women’s engagement and representation in politics, and the key concepts, theories and empirical studies that explain them; 

(b)  Sensitize students to classic and current policy arguments regarding women’s under-representation in legislative bodies; 

(c) Heighten students’ ability to use what they learned in the course in their own economic, political and /or socio-cultural research.