Understanding the Conditions and Consequences of Women’s Political Representation
In recent decades, women’s ability to engage in politics and civil society has risen dramatically across the globe. What has the increase in the number of women in politics, their “descriptive representation”, meant in substantive terms for women-citizens but also for societies in general? This dissertation contributes to clarifying the effects of descriptive representation of women on substantive representation, defined as the policy areas women tend to prioritize to a higher degree than men. The papers in the dissertation compare the effects of female representation on a comprehensive set of results: from policy inputs such as spending priorities to policy outcomes like infant mortality rates. Further, the dissertation theoretically clarifies and empirically tests the societal and institutional conditions that make it more or less likely for this descriptive-substantive link to work in practice. Across five papers utilizing comparative and historical datasets, I show that institutional efforts to increase representation (e.g., gender quotas) lead to gains in substantive representation. My findings also indicate that women representatives are successful in advancing the priorities of women as a group in both autocracies and democracies. This positive effect is partially explained by the activism of women-led civil society organizations. However, widespread corruption can undermine these efforts, and even lead to diminished development outcomes. In sum, my dissertation demonstrates that women's political representation can advance women's priorities, but this is unlikely to happen absent certain societal and institutional conditions.
Parts of work
Dahlum, Sirianne, Knutsen, Carl Henrik and Mechkova, Valeriya. (2021) Female Empowerment and Economic Growth. Unpublished manuscript.Mechkova, Valeriya. (2021) "Women Leaders: Exploring the Effects of the Chief Executive Gender on Budget Composition in Comparative Perspective." Program on Governance and Local Development Working Paper, (46). ::doi::10.2139/ssrn.3947097Mechkova, Valeriya, and Ruth Carlitz. (2021). Gendered accountability: when and why do women’s policy priorities get implemented?. European Political Science Review, 13(1), 3-21.::doi::10.1017/S1755773920000272Mechkova, Valeriya, Dahlum, Sirianne and Petrarca, Sanhueza Constanza. (2021) Women's Political Representation, Good Governance and Human Development. Unpublished manuscript.Mechkova, Valeriya, and Steven L. Wilson. (2021). Norms and rage: Gender and social media in the 2018 US mid-term elections. Electoral Studies, 69.::doi::10.1016/j.electstud.2020.102268
Doctor of Philosophy
University of Gothenburg. Faculty of Social Sciences
Göteborgs universitet. Samhällsvetenskapliga fakulteten
Department of Political Science ; Statsvetenskapliga institutionen
Fredagen den 28 januari 2022, kl. 13.15 i Torgny Segerstedtssalen, Universitetets huvudbyggnad, Vasaparken 1, Göteborg.
Date of defence
Women and politics
Göteborg Studies in Politics