Gender quotas have spread rapidly around the world in recent years. However, few studies have yet theorized, systematically or comparatively, variations in their features, adoption and implementation. This article surveys quota campaigns in Western Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand. It proposes that one or more sets of controversies influence the course and outcomes of quota reforms. These revolve around (1) competing principles of equality, (2) different ideas about political representation, and (3) various beliefs about ‘gender’ and its relation to other kinds of political identities. The article draws on these distinctions to identify four broad models of political citizenship that determine the kinds of quota policies that are pursued and their prospects for bringing more women into political office.
(Online publication August 26 2009)
* Department of Political Science, Washington University in St Louis (email: [email protected]); School of Politics and Sociology, Birkbeck College, London (email: [email protected]); and Department of Politics, University of Bristol (email: [email protected]), respectively. A much earlier version of this article was presented at the Gender Quota Symposium in Ekerö, Sweden, in June 2004. The authors thank Drude Dahlerup, Richard Matland and Diane Sainsbury, as well as Albert Weale and three anonymous reviewers at the Journal, for their comments on those earlier drafts. They also thank Amanda Driscoll for her help in putting together the footnotes.