American Political Science Review

Political Citizenship and Democratization: The Gender Paradox

a1 Professor of Political Science, Department of Political Science, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115, and Affiliate Scholar, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, Murray Research Center, 10 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 (


This research challenges models of democratization that claim liberal principles affirming the equality of rights-bearing individuals equably enhance the political inclusion of groups marginalized by race, class, or gender. While such explanations may suffice for race and class, this study's quantitative cross-national analysis of women's contemporary officeholding patterns establishes that gender presents a counter case whereby women's political citizenship is enhanced, first, by government institutions that paradoxically affirm both individual equality and kinship group difference and, second, by state policies that paradoxically affirm both individual equality and women's group difference. These findings challenge assumptions about the relationship between political citizenship and democratization, demonstrate how women's political inclusion as voters and officeholders is strengthened not by either a “sameness” principle (asserting women's equality to men as individuals) or a “difference” principle (asserting women's group difference from men) but rather by the paradoxical combination of both, and provide new views for assessing multiculturalism prospects within democratic states.