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Gender Quotas and Political Ambition: Evidence From Germany
Unformatted Document Text:  5 Hence the candidate pool in Germany is composed of the rank and file members of German political parties. 4 Examining the membership of the major German parties provides a first hint that a political ambition gap may indeed be present in Germany, as all of the major parties contain fewer men than women. The Greens’ membership is 37% female, the Social Democrats’ (SPD) 29%, the Christian Democratic Union’s (CDU) 25% and the liberal Free Democratic Party’s (FDP) membership is only 23% female (McKay 2004). 5 Fewer German women than men seem to be interested in taking the first step toward a political career – joining a political party. However, not every person who joins a political party is interested in running for elective office or actually does so. Many male party members may have low levels of political ambition. Ideally, to determine whether there is a gendered political ambition gap in Germany I would have taken a random sample of all rank and file party members from all major parties in Germany and assessed their levels of ambition. Due to Germany’s strict privacy laws, however, obtaining contact information for all parties’ members throughout the Federal Republic was an impossible task. Instead, what is publicly available are the names of party members elected to the leadership of the parties’ precinct-level organizations. Hence, the survey sample consists of the highest-ranking male and highest-ranking female officer in precinct-level organizations from the largest political parties in western Germany; respondents were drawn from randomly selected 4 Because some candidates are drawn from beyond party ranks, one could argue that interest groups may also constitute part of the German candidate pool. However, for the purposes of conducting a survey, it is not possible to systematically identify which positions in which interest groups regularly serve as a reservoir of candidates and thus not possible to comprehensively distribute surveys. Furthermore, since parties are such an important recruitment channel it is unlikely that individuals harboring political ambition would avoid joining a party and simply pursue interest group leadership positions. 5 The precise percentage for the Christian Social Union is not available but it is likely lower than that in the CDU.

Authors: Davidson-Schmich, Louise.
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5
Hence the candidate pool in Germany is composed of the rank and file members
of German political parties.
4
Examining the membership of the major German parties
provides a first hint that a political ambition gap may indeed be present in Germany, as
all of the major parties contain fewer men than women. The Greens’ membership is 37%
female, the Social Democrats’ (SPD) 29%, the Christian Democratic Union’s (CDU)
25% and the liberal Free Democratic Party’s (FDP) membership is only 23% female
(McKay 2004).
5
Fewer German women than men seem to be interested in taking the first
step toward a political career – joining a political party.
However, not every person who joins a political party is interested in running for
elective office or actually does so. Many male party members may have low levels of
political ambition. Ideally, to determine whether there is a gendered political ambition
gap in Germany I would have taken a random sample of all rank and file party members
from all major parties in Germany and assessed their levels of ambition. Due to
Germany’s strict privacy laws, however, obtaining contact information for all parties’
members throughout the Federal Republic was an impossible task. Instead, what is
publicly available are the names of party members elected to the leadership of the parties’
precinct-level organizations. Hence, the survey sample consists of the highest-ranking
male and highest-ranking female officer in precinct-level organizations from the largest
political parties in western Germany; respondents were drawn from randomly selected
4
Because some candidates are drawn from beyond party ranks, one could argue that interest groups may
also constitute part of the German candidate pool. However, for the purposes of conducting a survey, it is
not possible to systematically identify which positions in which interest groups regularly serve as a
reservoir of candidates and thus not possible to comprehensively distribute surveys. Furthermore, since
parties are such an important recruitment channel it is unlikely that individuals harboring political ambition
would avoid joining a party and simply pursue interest group leadership positions.
5
The precise percentage for the Christian Social Union is not available but it is likely lower than that in the
CDU.


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