Funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) 
October 2020-September 2023
The share of women in parliaments worldwide increased in the last decades. Extensive research studies the newly elected female representatives and indicates that they change the parliamentary agenda by promoting women’s interest in policy areas such as heath, family, or gender equality policies. Comparably little is known about the reactions of men office-holders to the changing gender composition of legislatures.
The objective of this project is to close this research gap and focus on the group of representatives who still occupy the majority of legislative seats. Based on the “politics of presence” argument (Phillips 1998) one might argue that menlegislators learn about women’s interests as more womenlegislators enter parliaments and, eventually, begin to promote these issues themselves.
This and similar hypotheses will be put under scrutiny during the project based on empirical evidence from the sixteen German states between 1990 and today. Focusing on one country ensures a comparable political setting in particular concerning the tools representatives have at hand to promote women’s interests. At the same time, the sample constitutes a micro cosmos of Western developed democracies with considerable variation in the shares of women elected, but also other variables of interest such as the electoral system or postmaterialist and feminist values in the society.
During the project, we will gather extensive data covering three indicators for women’s substantive representation. The data set will be one of the most comprehensive ones in the field given the number of parliaments, the time horizon and the diversity of the indicators for substantive representation.
The resulting analyses will, first of all, provide new and innovative insights into the relationship between gender and legislative behavior. Beyond, the findings might provide much needed explanations for the growing empirical evidence that increasing presence of women in parliaments is not correlated with a more accurate reflection of women’s preferences by political parties, parliaments, and in the legislation.