Women make up around 49.5% of the global population, yet they are strikingly underrepresented when it comes to political office. Looking at the global average, women only hold 24% of seats at the parliamentary level. The percent of women in office varies drastically between countries. For example, quota-based countries like Rwanda have 60% women in parliament, whereas countries with unique electoral systems like Lebanon only have 4.7%. This course looks to explain this variation, and further understand the consequences of it. We will focus on questions such as: How do electoral systems affect women’s access to elected office? What, if any, are the negative effects of imposing gender quotas? If elected, do women promote greater substantive representation? We will look into the potential for gender-based discrimination among socialized gender roles, voters, political parties, campaign policies, and the media. Please be advised that this is not a course on feminist theory, but rather an investigation of the barriers to women’s representation and political participation.
Instructor: Melanie Phillips