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Political Power and Women’s Representation in Latin America$
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Leslie A. Schwindt-Bayer

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199731954

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199731954.001.0001

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Descriptive Representation

Descriptive Representation

Electing Women in Latin America

(p.40) 2 Descriptive Representation
Political Power and Women’s Representation in Latin America

Leslie A. Schwindt-Bayer (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Why do more women get elected to Latin American legislatures today than 30 years ago and why are more women elected in some countries than others? This chapter examines how formal representation affects descriptive representation of women focusing on the proportionality of electoral rules and electoral gender quotas. It presents a statistical analysis with data on 18 Latin American democracies from 1974 (or the year of democratic transition) through 2007. It shows that large district magnitudes, large party magnitudes, and gender quotas are the most important explanations for the varying percentage of women in office. Further, it shows that the design of gender quota laws matters—quotas that require larger percentages of positions on party ballots to be female, that mandate that women be placed in winnable positions on party lists, and that provide mechanisms for enforcing quotas get more women into office than weaker quota laws.

Keywords:   women, formal representation, descriptive representation, Latin America, gender quotas, district magnitude, party magnitude, institutions, electoral rules

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