Making Gender Salient: From Gender Quota Laws to Policy explores the impact of political gender quota laws on policy outcomes in advanced democracies. The manuscript is forthcoming in CUP's Cambridge Studies in Gender and Politics series. You can read a short abstract below.
Quota laws are the electoral reform of our generation, and they now require parties in over 60 countries to include a certain share of women as candidates. Making Gender Salient: From Gender Quota Laws to Policy addresses the key question, do gender quota laws lead to policies that better reflect women’s preferences, or not? While most studies rely on assumptions about what constitutes women’s interests, the book offers an inductive approach to defining women’s concerns, using public opinion data to identify gender gaps over policies in advanced democracies. The main argument is that gender quotas ought to lead to change especially on women’s interests that lie off the main left-right (class-based) dimension in politics, such as work-family policies, because the law adds important salience to cross-cutting issues that parties would otherwise prefer to ignore. Using a mixed method approach, the substantive chapters show that quotas increase both party- and national-level attention to women's policy preferences. Implementing a quota law increases coverage of women's social justice concerns in party manifestos, and shifts work-family policies in the direction of women’s preferences to support working mothers. Importantly, quotas increase numbers of women across parties, giving women in center and right-wing parties (which typically had few women in their ranks before the quota) new opportunities to shift their parties' agendas. Quotas make gender more salient by giving women louder voices within parties, access to powerful ministerial roles, and encouraging male party leaders to compete on these now more normalized issues. While they are not a panacea, the book concludes that quotas are one important way of facilitating congruence between women's policy preferences and outcomes in advanced democracies.