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Gender Quotas and Political Ambition: Evidence From Germany
Unformatted Document Text:  10 counterparts (Bledsoe and Herring 1990; Fox and Lawless, 2004). Furthermore, the American women who are encouraged to run tend to get asked to run by family, while men are more likely to be asked by colleagues – arguably a stronger signal of potential success (NWPC 1994). Political party leaders are often reported to discourage potential women candidates (Fox, 2000, 245-6) or at least be subconsciously biased against them (Niven 1998). As a result, the American parties approach fewer women to run than men (Carroll 1985, 44) and strong party organizations in the United States are associated with lower numbers of female candidates (Sanbonmatsu 2006). But comparative research shows that when parties are weak, women are unlikely to run for office (Caul 1999) as individual ambition matters even more because candidates are largely self-selecting and, as we will see below, women are unlikely to feel qualified to run. The political opportunity structure in Germany is much more conducive to women’s candidacies. The German electoral system relies heavily on proportional representation, there is a multi-party system with an influential Green party, gender quotas are in place for many parties, and candidates are chosen by parties not voters. As a result, women are often approached by their parties about running for office – even in parties that do not have quotas. (See Table 1). 91.1% of the women surveyed, but only 87.8% of the men, reported that someone had encouraged them to run for office. 8 Of these respondents, 84% of the women but only 79% of the men had been encouraged to run for office by their political party. 9 In all parties but the quota-less CSU, equal or greater percentages of women than men had been asked by their parties to run for office, although the difference was only significant at conventional levels in the Green party – 8 The difference of these means was not significant at conventional levels. 9 Differences of means test significance level p < .1.

Authors: Davidson-Schmich, Louise.
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counterparts (Bledsoe and Herring 1990; Fox and Lawless, 2004). Furthermore, the
American women who are encouraged to run tend to get asked to run by family, while
men are more likely to be asked by colleagues – arguably a stronger signal of potential
success (NWPC 1994). Political party leaders are often reported to discourage potential
women candidates (Fox, 2000, 245-6) or at least be subconsciously biased against them
(Niven 1998). As a result, the American parties approach fewer women to run than men
(Carroll 1985, 44) and strong party organizations in the United States are associated with
lower numbers of female candidates (Sanbonmatsu 2006). But comparative research
shows that when parties are weak, women are unlikely to run for office (Caul 1999) as
individual ambition matters even more because candidates are largely self-selecting and,
as we will see below, women are unlikely to feel qualified to run.
The political opportunity structure in Germany is much more conducive to
women’s candidacies. The German electoral system relies heavily on proportional
representation, there is a multi-party system with an influential Green party, gender
quotas are in place for many parties, and candidates are chosen by parties not voters. As
a result, women are often approached by their parties about running for office – even in
parties that do not have quotas. (See Table 1). 91.1% of the women surveyed, but only
87.8% of the men, reported that someone had encouraged them to run for office.
8
Of
these respondents, 84% of the women but only 79% of the men had been encouraged to
run for office by their political party.
9
In all parties but the quota-less CSU, equal or
greater percentages of women than men had been asked by their parties to run for office,
although the difference was only significant at conventional levels in the Green party –
8
The difference of these means was not significant at conventional levels.
9
Differences of means test significance level p < .1.


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