- August 2021
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- Female representation in political decision-making positions is now a salient issue in public discussions throughout Europe. Understanding public attitudes towards a more balanced gender distribution in politics remains limited, however. Using a 2017 Eurobarometer, we focus on cross-national differences in public support for increased female participation in politics to address this limitation. Building on the policy feedbacks literature, we stress the role of gender quotas. We argue that quotas - as legislative devices usually adopted through elite-driven initiatives - stimulate support for stronger female representation. Ensuing debates on quotas raise individual awareness about the underrepresentation of women - informational effect - and, once adopted, give a clear signal that persistent gender imbalance is a social problem to be redressed - normative effect. Our empirical analysis supports this argument. Citizens in countries with gender quotas display stronger support for increased female participation in politics.
- attitudes; europe; gender; political representation; quotas; women