Political Representation: The Gendered Effects of Voting Systems

  • Marian SawerEmail author
  • Manon Tremblay


In political science, the classic works on voting systems rarely noticed their impact on the representation of women. It was not until the 1980s that scholars showed that the type of electoral system was a key predictor of women’s legislative recruitment. This new knowledge was quickly taken up by those advising on policy for transitional democracies and by electoral reformers in the old democracies. In the 1990s, it was combined with knowledge of how quotas might increase women’s political representation—particularly when there was a good fit between quotas, the type of electoral system and party structures. Increased awareness of intersectionality made electoral system scholarship more complicated—for LGBTQ minorities first-past-the-post systems might offer greater rewards than proportional representation (PR).


Voting systems Women Descriptive representation Quotas 

Key Readings

  1. Krook, Mona Lena and Pippa Norris. 2014. ‘How Quotas Work: The Supply and Demand Model Revisited’. In Deeds and Words: Gendering Politics After Joni Lovenduski, edited by Rosie Campbell and Sarah Childs, 185–206. Colchester: ECPR Press.Google Scholar
  2. Matland, Richard E. 1993. ‘Institutional Variables Affecting Female Representation in National Legislatures: The Case of Norway’. The Journal of Politics 55(3): 737–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Rule, Wilma. 1987. ‘Electoral Systems, Contextual Factors and Women’s Opportunity for Election to Parliament in Twenty-Three Democracies’. Western Political Quarterly 40(3): 477–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Rule, Wilma and Joseph F. Zimmerman, eds. 1994. Electoral Systems in Comparative Perspective: Their Impact on Women and Minorities. Westport: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  5. Tremblay, Manon, ed. 2012 (2008). Women and Legislative Representation: Electoral Systems, Political Parties, and Sex Quotas. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia
  2. 2.University of OttawaOttawaCanada

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