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Gender (im)Balances in Local Politics in Norway: Hindrances to Leadership
Unformatted Document Text:  The political supply factor is the representation base for power distribution: i.e. the female/male ratio among council members. If a municipality’s council has a greatly skewed ratio towards male dominance, one may expect a skewed gender power distribution as well, both because of supply factors; one may lack sufficient numbers of women council members, and on cultural/ideological grounds; a gender biased assembly may well be the result of gender blind or not particularly women-friendly party praxis in the local recruitment and nomination processes. The ideological feature we introduce to the model is party strength: which party is in majority/the ruling party in the council (indicated by the party holding the mayor’s position). Earlier research (Halsaa & Van der Ros 1989) on praxis towards equality policy measures at the local level showed that the lefty’s parties (Labour and Socialist party) are more positive to take gender into account then Conservative and Christian Democratic parties. Liberals have, as Labour and Socialists, shown positive praxis with regard to use of gender quota systems intern in the party, so Liberals will be grouped with the two left parties. This ideological feature is also an indicator of political opportunity structure: these parties’ use of gender quotas in the local nomination processes ensures fair distributions of women and men candidates at these parties’ ballots. The geographical dimension plays an important role in Norwegian political culture. Rokkan has shown that, simply stated, political culture varies from one side of the mountain range to the other, and regions in the south and the north show again other variations. Geography has played an important role for the development of different subcultures and establishments of parties (Rokkan 1987). Further research shows that geography still is a viable factor in understanding and explaining differences in opportunity structures and praxis toward gender equality issues (Raaum 1995). Rokkan operated with different numbers of regions; the five we activate are the North of Norway (nr of counties included in parentheses: 3 counties), Middle-Norway (2) West-Norway (4), south of Norway (2) and East/central Norway (8). The socio-economic structure, we decided to measure by the proportion of women (age 20-66) active in the labour force. In some respects, this is a troubling indicator: this variable may indicate the type of local labour market: a high proportion of women in the work force often means a large public service sector and/or female dominated industry (fishery industry in the north of Norway, textile industry in the west). Research has shown that there is a positive correlation between women’s activity in the labour market and their political involvement (Togeby 1989). So, the indicator can also make us interpret the effects of socio-economic structure as an indicator of opportunity structures that (probably) makes every day life more easy for women to attend to other activities, such as political involvement. Third possibility is to see the indicator as sign of supply of politically motivated women? Tabel 1: Factors influencing the distribution of power among women and men Multivariate analyses B SE Constant -36,7 22,6 Prop. women council members 0,55 *** 0,12 Ideology/pro gender quota praxis 12,6 *** 2,3 Geography : West-Norway 7,3 ** 2,9 North of Norway 6,7 ** 3,2 East & Central Norway 5,8 ** 2,8 South of Norway 3,3 3,9 Prop. of women in labour market 0,48 * 0,29 15 of 29

Authors: van der Ros, Janneke.
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background image
The political supply factor is the representation base for power distribution: i.e. the
female/male ratio among council members. If a municipality’s council has a greatly skewed
ratio towards male dominance, one may expect a skewed gender power distribution as well,
both because of supply factors; one may lack sufficient numbers of women council members,
and on cultural/ideological grounds; a gender biased assembly may well be the result of
gender blind or not particularly women-friendly party praxis in the local recruitment and
nomination processes.
The ideological feature we introduce to the model is party strength: which party is in
majority/the ruling party in the council (indicated by the party holding the mayor’s position).
Earlier research (Halsaa & Van der Ros 1989) on praxis towards equality policy measures at
the local level showed that the lefty’s parties (Labour and Socialist party) are more positive to
take gender into account then Conservative and Christian Democratic parties. Liberals have,
as Labour and Socialists, shown positive praxis with regard to use of gender quota systems
intern in the party, so Liberals will be grouped with the two left parties. This ideological
feature is also an indicator of political opportunity structure: these parties’ use of gender
quotas in the local nomination processes ensures fair distributions of women and men
candidates at these parties’ ballots.
The geographical dimension plays an important role in Norwegian political culture. Rokkan
has shown that, simply stated, political culture varies from one side of the mountain range to
the other, and regions in the south and the north show again other variations. Geography has
played an important role for the development of different subcultures and establishments of
parties (Rokkan 1987). Further research shows that geography still is a viable factor in
understanding and explaining differences in opportunity structures and praxis toward gender
equality issues (Raaum 1995). Rokkan operated with different numbers of regions; the five
we activate are the North of Norway (nr of counties included in parentheses: 3 counties),
Middle-Norway (2) West-Norway (4), south of Norway (2) and East/central Norway (8).
The socio-economic structure, we decided to measure by the proportion of women (age
20-66) active in the labour force. In some respects, this is a troubling indicator: this variable
may indicate the type of local labour market: a high proportion of women in the work force
often means a large public service sector and/or female dominated industry (fishery industry
in the north of Norway, textile industry in the west). Research has shown that there is a
positive correlation between women’s activity in the labour market and their political
involvement (Togeby 1989). So, the indicator can also make us interpret the effects of socio-
economic structure as an indicator of opportunity structures that (probably) makes every day
life more easy for women to attend to other activities, such as political involvement. Third
possibility is to see the indicator as sign of supply of politically motivated women?
Tabel 1: Factors influencing the distribution of power among women and men
Multivariate analyses
B
SE
Constant
-36,7
22,6
Prop. women council members
0,55
***
0,12
Ideology/pro gender quota praxis
12,6
***
2,3
Geography : West-Norway
7,3
**
2,9
North of Norway
6,7
**
3,2
East & Central Norway
5,8
**
2,8
South of Norway
3,3
3,9
Prop. of women in labour market
0,48
*
0,29
15 of 29


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