The electoral success of women across different levels of government

The conventional wisdom in the academic literature on the representation of women holds that the proportion of women in representative bodies decreases with the government level. In other words, the more powerful and prestigious the positions, the fewer the women we find. From this conventional wisdom, we should expect women to be more frequently politically engaged on the local level than on the national stage. Yet our preliminary observations in Germany indicate that we should reverse this conventional wisdom as we find fewer women in local level assemblies than at any other level. This observation represents an important puzzle as it challenges a vast body of theories on the determinants of women’s representation. In addition to this puzzle, researchers to date have been hampered by the absence of data detailing the socio-demographic background of elected representatives at different levels of government. Additional to its substantive focus, one of the main objectives of this project is the production of a data base detailing the composition of representative bodies on all German government levels for a period of 20 years.

This project is jointly carried out with Dr. Christina Eder from the GESIS Leibniz Institut für Sozialwissenschaften in Mannheim in the period between 01.08.2014 and 31.07.2015, and is financed by the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung für Wissenschaftsförderung.

Project coordinator: Univ.-Prof. Jessica Fortin-Rittberger, PhD
Staff involved: Dr. Zoe Lefkofridi (assistant professor), Dr. Corinna Kröber, MA, Sarah Dingler, MA (PhD fellow)


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