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Growth in Women’s Political Representation: A Longitudinal Exploration of Democracy, Electoral System, and Gender Quotas

Pamela Paxton, Melanie Hughes, & Matthew Painter

The increase in women’s political representation is among the most significant trends in international politics over the last 100 years. Though women have made steady political progress, there is significant variation in the level of progress from country to country. This paper examines how political factors such as electoral systems, national-level gender quotas, and growth of democracy affect women’s political representation in a country. The study finds that a) national quotas do affect women’s political presence, but at a lower level than legislated by law; b) the impact of a proportional representation system on women’s political representation is steady over time; and c) democracy does not affect the level of women’s political participation in the earliest period, but does impact its growth over time.