The Gendered Effects of Electoral Institutions: Political Engagement and Participation

Miki Kittilson, Leslie A. Schwindt-Bayer

Research output: Book/ReportBook

90 Scopus citations


In most countries around the world, women continue to lag behind men in an array of political orientations and activities. Understanding why this is the case and why some countries have been more successful than others at moderating gender gaps in political involvement is imperative for producing stronger and more representative democracies. Cultural, socioeconomic, and political factors explain some of the gender gaps in political involvement, but not all of them. In this book, the authors argue that electoral institutions attenuate gender gaps in mass political engagement and participation by drawing women, an "undertapped" constituency, into the democratic process. Using cross-national and country-specific analyses, the authors show that electoral institutions play a complementary and significant role in reducing gender gaps in political involvement. The cross-national analyses draw on comparative survey data from a wide range and large number of countries. The cases draw out the processes underlying changes in political attitudes and behaviors with evidence from four country studies: New Zealand, Russia, France, and Uruguay. All four countries have altered their electoral institutions, either through large-scale reform of the electoral system itself or adopting gender quotas, allowing the authors to examine patterns of political involvement pre- and post-reform. The book finds that inclusive electoral systems that produce more proportional electoral outcomes have larger effects on women's political engagement and participation than on men's. Gender quotas also mediate women's engagement and participation, but to a lesser degree. On the whole, the book concludes that electoral rules designed to promote social inclusion in parliament are critical for promoting social group inclusion among the electorate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages192
ISBN (Electronic)9780191745799
ISBN (Print)9780199608607
StatePublished - Jan 24 2013


  • Comparative politics
  • Electoral institutions
  • Gender equality
  • Gender quotas
  • Political engagement
  • Political involvement
  • Political participation
  • Women and politics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'The Gendered Effects of Electoral Institutions: Political Engagement and Participation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this