Women in Politics in Comparative Perspective

Download the Women in Politics Syllabus as PDF


Instructor: Dr. Joshua Kjerulf Dubrow

Date and Time: Semester I, Thursdays, 9:30 – 11:30

Place: Room 158, Graduate School for Social Research, 72 Nowy Swiat, 00-330 Warsaw, Poland

Course Website: https://genderandpolitics.wordpress.com/

Office Hours: By appointment

Email: jdubrow2000@yahoo.com

Course Description:

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.

Course Requirements and Evaluation:

Two critical assessment papers (15% each): These are short papers (about six pages double-spaced) with preset questions based on the readings. The purpose is to intellectually engage the student in summarizing and critically evaluating the readings.

Term Paper (40%): This final paper (about nine pages double-spaced) can take one of two forms: (1) A country case study, placing the country in comparative perspective; or (2) an original work of the student that uses extant research in women in politics in preparation of dissertation or journal publication.

Class participation (30%): Students are expected to discuss all of the assigned readings on the due date and to participate in in-class projects. Each week, two students will be designated as discussion leaders, whose job is to provide a short summary of the required readings and at least one debatable issue stemming from these readings. These are not written assignments (i.e., they do not have to be submitted in written form) but the oral presentation must reflect the discussion leaders’ scrupulous preparation based on the readings.

Policies on Attendance, Late Materials, and Exam Make-Ups:

Please remember to be courteous and polite to one another during heated discussions. We will be with each other for four months and we all need a healthy and comfortable classroom environment to learn and discuss issues.

Assignments are to be handed-in to us personally at the beginning of class. I accept late materials only if I am notified 24 hours prior to the deadline.

For emailed assignments and papers: it is the responsibility of the student to be sure that the instructor receives it. Excuses and explanations regarding problems in submitting electronically submitted materials are only accepted at the discretion of the instructor.

Detailed Course Outline and Course Readings

Course readings are available at the library of the Graduate School for Social Research. Readings marked with an “R” are REQUIRED, or mandatory readings. Those with “OP” are optional or non-mandatory readings. Students are expected to have read the REQUIRED readings on the date they are assigned; optional readings are suggested, but students are not responsible for having read them.

Week [Date] Topic Readings
1     [October 7] Overview: Trends in Women’s Political Citizenship and Representation in Cross-National Perspective and Sources of Data, Publications, Advocacy Organizations and Professional Associations  

OP — Paxton P, Hughes M. 2007. Women, Politics, and Power: A Global Perspective. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge

OP — Matland, Richard E. and Kathleen A. Montgomery (eds). 2003. Women’s Access to Political Power in Post-Communist Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

OP — Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Women in Politics [website]OP – International IDEA Women in Politics [website]

OP – Kongres Kobiet [website]

2    [October 14] The Concept of Representation: Theoretical Traditions and Normative Concerns R — Paxton P, Hughes M. 2007. “Chapter 1: Introduction to Women in Politics,” pp. 1 – 19 in Women, Politics, and Power: A Global Perspective. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge

R — Mansbridge, Jane. 1999. “Should Blacks Represent Blacks and Women Represent Women? A Contingent ‘Yes.’” Journal of Politics 61(3):628-57.

R — McDonagh, Eileen. 2002. “Political Citizenship and Democratization: The Gender Paradox.” American Political Science Review, 96(3):535-552.

OP — Dovi, Suzanne. 2002. “Preferable Descriptive Representatives: Will Just Any Woman, Black, or Latino Do?” American Political Science Review 96(4):729-43.

OP – Pitkin, Hanna F. 1972. The Concept of Representation. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Chapter 4.

OP — Phillips, Anne. 1995. The Politics of Presence. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Chapter 1.

OP — Young, Iris M. 1990. Justice and the Politics of Difference. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

3   [October 21] Masses and Movements R — Paxton P, Hughes MM. 2007. Women, Politics, and Power: A Global Perspective. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge. Chapter 2.

R – Matynia, Elzbieta. 2010. “Polish Feminism between the Local and the Global: A Task of Translation,” pp. 193 – 228 in Women’s Movements in the Global Era: The Power of Local Feminisms edited by Amrita Basu. Westview Press.

OP — Paxton P, Hughes MM, Green JL. 2006. “The international women’s movement and women’s political representation, 1893–2003.” American Sociological Review 71:898–920.

OP — Inglehart, Ronald and Pippa Norris. 2000. “The Developmental Theory of the Gender Gap: Women’s and Men’s Voting Behavior in Global Perspective.” International Political Science Review 21(4): 441-463.

OP — Einhorn, Barbara and Charlotte Sever. 2003. “Gender and Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 5(2): 163-190.

4   [October 28] Macro-Level Influences on Women’s Representation, Part I R – Paxton, Pamela, Sheri Kunovich and Melanie Hughes. 2007. “Gender in Politics.” Annual Review of Sociology 33: 263-284.

OP — Paxton P, Kunovich S. 2003. “Women’s political representation: the importance of ideology.” Social Forces 81(5):87–114.

OP – Fox, Richard L and Jennifer L. Lawless. 2004. “Entering the Arena? Gender and the Decision to Run for Office.” American Journal of Political Science 48(2): 264-280.

OP — Kenworthy, Lane and Melissa Malami. 1999. “Gender Inequality in Political Representation: A Worldwide Comparative Analysis.” Social Forces 78(1):235-68.

OP — Dubrow, Joshua Kjerulf. 2006. “Women’s Representation in the Romanian Chamber of Deputies, 1992 – 2005: The Effect of District Economic Development.” International Journal of Sociology 36 (1): 93-109.


5   [November 4] Macro-Level Influences on Women’s Representation, Part II R — Schwindt-Bayer, Leslie A. and William Mishler. 2005. “An Integrated Model of Women’s Representation.” Journal of Politics 67(2):407-28.

R — Chiva, Cristina. 2009. “The Limits of Europeanization: EU Accession and Gender Equality in Bulgaria and Romania.” Perspectives on European Politics and Society 10(2): 195-209.

OP — Siemienska, Renata. 2003. “Women in the Polish Sejm: Political Culture and Party Politics Versus Electoral Rules.” Pp. 217-44 in Women’s Access to Political Power in Post-Communist Europe, edited by Richard E. Matland and Kathleen A. Montgomery. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Critical Assessment Paper #1 DUE

6 [November 18] Special Topic: Gender and Politics in America R – Faludi, Susan. 2007. “We’re at War, Sweetheart,” pp. 19-45 in The Terror Dream: Fear and Fantasy in Post 9/11 America. New York: Metropolitan Books.

R – I — “Gender and the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election” Reader

7 [November 25] Micro-Macro Processes R — Sanbonmatsu, Kira. 2002. “Gender Stereotypes and Vote Choice.” American Journal of Political Science 46(1):20-34. R — Dubrow, Joshua Kjerulf. 2007. “Voting for Descriptive Representation: Demographic Cues across Multiple Elections” pp. 271 – 286 in Continuity and Change in Social Life: Structural and Psychological Adjustment in Poland, edited by Kazimierz M. Slomczynski and Sandra Marquart-Pyatt. IFiS: Warsaw.


OP — Lovenduski, Joni and Pipa Norris. 2003. “Westminster Women: The Politics of Presence.” Political Studies 51(1): 84-102.

OP — Matland, Richard E. and Kathleen A. Montgomery. 2003. “Recruiting Women to National Legislatures: A General Framework with Applications to Post-Communist Democracies.” Pp. 19-42 in Women’s Access to Political Power in Post-Communist Europe, edited by Richard E. Matland and Kathleen A. Montgomery. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

8 [December 2] Independent Study Independent preparation for the term paper. Class will not formally meet.
9 [December 9] Quotas, Part I: Quota Types and Effectiveness R – Krook, Mona Lena. 2009. Quotas for Women in Politics: Gender and Candidate Selection Reform Worldwide. New York: Oxford University Press. Chapters 1, 2 and 3.OP — Drude Dahlerup and Lenita Freidenvall. 2009. “ELECTORAL GENDER QUOTA SYSTEMS AND THEIR IMPLEMENTATION IN EUROPE.” Report to the European Union.OP — Matland, Richard E. 2006. “Electoral Quotas: Frequency and Effectiveness,” in Women, Quotas, and Politics edited by Drude Dahlerup, London: Routledge.

OP — Caul Kittilson, Miki. 2006. Challenging Parties, Changing Parliaments: Women and Elected Office in Contemporary Western Europe. Columbus, OH: The Ohio State University Press.

OP — Daherup, Drude (ed). 2006. Women, Quotas, and Politics. London: Routledge.

10 [December 16] Quotas, Part II: Who Supports Quotas and Why? R — Dubrow, Joshua Kjerulf. “The Importance of Party Ideology: Explaining Parliamentarian Support for Political Party Gender Quotas in Eastern Europe.” Forthcoming in Party Politics.R — Dubrow, Joshua Kjerulf and Dorota Woroniecka. “National and European Influences on Parliamentarian Attitudes toward Gender Equality and Gender Quotas.” Forthcoming in National and European? Polish Political Elite in Comparative Perspective, edited by Wesolowski, Wlodzimierz, Joshua Kjerulf Dubrow and Kazimierz M. Slomczynski. Warsaw: IFiS Publishers.Critical Assessment Paper #2 Due
11 [January 6] Impact of Women on Politics, Part I R — Wangnerud, Lena. 2009. “Women in Parliaments: Descriptive and Substantive Representation.” Annual Review of Political Science 12:51-69.

R — Celis, Karen. 2008. “Studying Women’s Substantive Representation in Legislatures: When Representative Acts, Contexts and Women’s Interests Become Important.” Representation: Journal of Representative Democracy 44(2): 111-124.

OP — Xydias, Christina. 2008. “Inviting More Women to the Party: Gender Quotas and Women’s Substantive Representation in Germany.” International Journal of Sociology 37(4): 52-66.

12 [January 13] Impact of Women on Politics, Part II R — Grey, Sandra. 2006. “Numbers and Beyond: The Relevance of Critical Mass in Gender Research.” Politics & Gender 2(4): 492 – 501.

R — Beckwith, Karen and Kimberly Cowell-Meyers. 2007. “Sheer Numbers: Critical Representation Thresholds and Women’s Political Representation.” Perspectives on Politics 5(3): 553-565.

R — Childs, Sarah and Mona Lena Krook. 2006. “Should Feminists Give Up on Critical Mass? A Contingent Yes.” Politics & Gender 2(4): 522-530.

13 [January 20] Women in Politics and Intersectionality R — McCall, Leslie. 2005. “The Complexity of Intersectionality.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 30(3): 1771 – 1800.OP — Hancock, Angie-Marie. 2007. “When Multiplication Doesn’t Equal Quick Addition: Examining Intersectionality as a Research Paradigm.” Perspectives on Politics 5(1): 63-79.

OP — Weldon, S. Laurel. 2006. “The Structure of Intersectionality: A Comparative Politics of Gender.” Politics & Gender 2(2): 235-248.

14 [January 27] Conclusion Term paper Due