Gender quotas and democratic participation: Recruiting candidates for elective offices in Germany

Research output: Book/ReportBook

23 Scopus citations


Since the 1970s, quotas for female political candidates in elections have proliferated worldwide. Beyond increasing the numbers of women in high-level elected bodies and, thereby, women’s political representation, advocates claim that quotas foster gender-equal participation in democracy and create female role models. Supposedly, quotas also overcome barriers to women’s political participation, especially discriminatory practices in the selection of electoral candidates. Whereas such claims have persuaded policy makers to adopt quotas, little empirical evidence exists to verify their effects. In Gender Quotas and Democratic Participation, Louise K. Davidson-Schmich employs a pathbreaking research design to assess the impact of gender quotas on all phases of political recruitment. Drawing on interviews with, and an original survey of, potential candidates in Germany, she investigates the extent to which quotas and corresponding increases in women’s descriptive representation have resulted in similar percentages of men and women joining political parties, aspiring to elected office, pursuing ballot nominations, and securing selection as candidates. She also examines the effect of quotas on discriminatory selection procedures. Ultimately, Davidson-Schmich argues, quotas’ intended benefits have only partially been realized. Quotas give women greater presence in powerful elected bodies not by encouraging female citizens to pursue political office at rates similar to men’s, but by improving the odds that the limited number of politically ambitious women who do join parties will be elected. She concludes with concrete, original policy recommendations for increasing women’s political participation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherUniversity of Michigan Press
Number of pages304
ISBN (Electronic)0472121618, 9780472121618
ISBN (Print)0472119745, 9780472119745
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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