Women, Politics, and Ideology: A Cross-national Study of Women in Parliament

Open Access
Weidner, Sophia Noel
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • John David Mccarthy, Thesis Supervisor
  • Stacy Silver, Honors Advisor
  • gender equality
  • gender attitudes
  • ideology
  • formal political representation
  • parliament
  • religiosity
This paper describes new research about whether political, structural, and, most importantly, ideological factors have an impact on the proportion of women in parliament across 53 countries, ones that vary in region and development level. Gender equality is an issue nations all over the world are struggling to address, especially issues concerning women’s formal participation in politics, the issue which motivates this study. I use data from the World Values Survey, the Inter-Parliamentary Union Survey, the Quota Project, the Quality of Government, and the World Bank to evaluate how political, structural, and ideological factors are related to women’s formal political participation. My results reveal that when controlling for all other factors, including political and structural factors, religiosity and attitudes about women as political leaders are significantly related to the proportion of women in parliament across these 53 countries. These results indicate that changing governmental policies and widening the pool of eligible female candidates are not the only steps that are likely to lead to greater gender equality in parliaments around the world. Gender attitudes and cultural beliefs about gender equality also need to change before greater equality in parliamentary representation of women can become a reality.