Glass Ceilings Broken by Hillary Clinton
Political Conflict

What Happens After Glass Ceilings Shatter? The Influence a First Female Leader Has on Women’s Representation in Elected Offices

Author(s): Curtis Bell
Date: June 14, 2016
Publication Type: Discussion Paper
Research Topics: Political Conflict

Overview:

This paper leverages data from the fifty democracies that have had a female leader to better understand how women in the highest levels of government affect women’s representation in other elected offices. The experiences of these countries offer little reason to believe a first female president or prime minister will soon be followed by another woman in power. However, countries with current and former female leaders have significantly more women in their legislatures, even after accounting for confounding factors like greater economic opportunities for women, greater gender equity, and legal gender quotas. 

Key Findings:

  • Countries with current or former female leaders have significantly more women in their legislatures relative to countries that have never had a woman in power.
  • This gap in women’s representation persists even after accounting for confounding factors like greater economic opportunities for women, greater gender equity, and legal gender quotas.
  • Because even small changes in the gender diversity of an elected body can have profound effects on the type of legislation it produces, a first female leader is likely to have important consequences for public policy.

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