Women as European Commissioners – Can von der Leyen reach the fifty percent she promised?

In a tight race, Ursula von der Leyen was elected by the European Parliament to be president of the European Commission [EC] last week. One of many promises she made during her short campaign, was the pledge to bring in 50 percent women as commissioners. This is an ambitious endeavor given that women currently occupy about 30 percent of the offices. This figure is considerably higher than the average proportion of female ministers in the member states through the 2000s, where only 23.4 percent of all government members were women (own data, excluding Malta and Cyprus). The literature on politics and gender would lead us to expect the opposite pattern with lower proportions of women in the commission compared to national executives: For instance, theories highlighting the role of political opportunity structure point to the fact that women are less likely to reach political offices if only one position is available (Jalalzai 2008) and, since every country sends only one commissioner, women should stand low chances to be selected. Students of executive and legislative recruitment revealed that women have lower chances if aspirants can not declare their interest for offices independently since women are less likely to be part of the insider networks from which candidates are selected in such cases (Matland 2002). Since the EC nominations are made by governments behind closed doors, women face additional barriers to their consideration as nominees. Which factors enable women to overcome these obstacles to EC appointment and explain whether countries sent female commissioners?… Read More Women as European Commissioners – Can von der Leyen reach the fifty percent she promised?

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German female and male ministers – many similarities and little differences

Most executives around the world are largely male-dominated, even though the proportion of women ministers is at an all-time high at the moment with 20.7 per cent (812 out of 3922), (IPU 2019). Some scholars argue that the low numbers follow from the fact that women need to overcome higher barriers than men to get to the top (e.g. Murray 2014, Verge and Astudillo 2019). They need to make-up for intangible masculine assets that they naturally do not possess but that are highly valued by institutional and political gatekeepers who select ministers. Based on this idea, women might have to be exceptional to overcome social, structural, and political obstacles to office. To understand this rationale in more detail, in this blogpost, I zoom into the German case to answer the question whether female ministers are better equipped for a position in government than their male colleagues?… Read More German female and male ministers – many similarities and little differences

Which conservatives voted against May’s Brexit deal?

This week’s “meaningful vote” in the House of Commons marks one of the most remarkable losses a British prime minister ever had to experience. 68.1% of all representatives voted against the deal negotiated by May’s government with the European Union. Even within her Conservative party, the prime minister experienced considerable opposition with 37.6% of the MPs voting against the EU (withdrawal) Act. In this brief blog contribution, I aim to identify which conservative MPs were most likely to vote against their own government’s Brexit proposal. Were representatives with certain social characteristics and contextual settings in their districts more likely to vote ‘no’?… Read More Which conservatives voted against May’s Brexit deal?

When all parties nominate women: The role of political gender stereotypes in voters’ choices

By Zoe Lefkofridi, Nathalie Giger and Anne Maria Holli:
In their recent publication in Politics and Gender, the authors inquire about political gender stereotypes and their consequences. Their work builds on and extends existing knowledge of voters’ gender-based assumptions about individual candidates’ character traits and their policy expertise. … Read More When all parties nominate women: The role of political gender stereotypes in voters’ choices

Literature Review: Double barriers or outgroup advantage

In the recent article, Stockemer and Sundström ask whether young women, compared to older women, are more likely to be elected to parliaments. Since most male representatives are middle-aged to senior, such a negative relationship between age and electoral success of women appears counter-intuitive. Yet, theories about biases in recruitment practices indicate that candidates with two outgroup traits such as young women might actually have better chances to be granted viable list positions.… Read More Literature Review: Double barriers or outgroup advantage

New publication: How to measure the substantive representation of traditionally excluded groups in comparative research?

In her recent publication in the Journal of Representation, Corinna Kroeber answers the question of how researchers can measure the substantive representation of ethnic minorities and women in comparative studies? Most research studying to what extent representatives and parliaments are considerate of traditionally excluded groups’ political interest focuses on single countries. This makes it difficult to study important questions such as whether or to what extent electoral incentives moderate the motivation of belonging legislators to advocate for their group’s political interests. Or, in which manner women’s or minority organizations outside parliaments promote feminist or minority-friendly legislations. To close these and similar research gaps, it is necessary to compare traditionally excluded groups in different country contexts.… Read More New publication: How to measure the substantive representation of traditionally excluded groups in comparative research?

Which candidates are placed on top of lists? Examining characteristics selectors are looking for in candidates to legislative elections

Candidate selection is one of the most important tasks of political parties. It determines who is placed in front of the electorate and thus often the parties’ electoral fortune. Despite this importance, only few parties have implemented formal requirements prospective candidates should meet (Hazan and Rahat, 2010).[1] Due to this lack of formal rules, we… Read More Which candidates are placed on top of lists? Examining characteristics selectors are looking for in candidates to legislative elections