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  • Author or Editor: Hilde Coffé x
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Most research studying gender and political participation fails to problematise the measure of gender identity. Using 2012/13 Dutch Longitudinal Internet Studies for the Social Sciences panel survey data, we investigate how gender-socialised personality traits relate to various types of political engagement. Baseline models show that, when significant, self-assessed socialised agentic/masculine traits are positively, and communal/feminine traits are negatively, related to political engagement, though only to activist types of engagement. Multivariate analyses reveal the positive link between agentic/masculine traits and very agentic forms of activity, including engaging with political parties and politicians and going to public hearings. Furthermore, the categorial gender/sex gap in participation matters independently of agentic/masculine traits and communal/feminine traits but the direction and size of the gap differs depending on the type of engagement considered.

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This article introduces a theoretical model that shows how four mechanisms (work–life balance, psychological, gatekeeper bias and diversity mechanisms) explain why pursuing a nomination as list Members of Parliament is the more attractive option for women in mixed-member electoral systems. It also demonstrates how women’s resulting greater likelihood of being list Members of Parliament creates what we call a gendered cycle, further reducing women’s interest in the single-member district tier. To empirically test our model, we present quantitative data for the case of New Zealand and Germany, as well as qualitative interview data collected from members of German parties’ women’s auxiliary organisations.

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This study examines the representation of women Members of Parliament on parliamentary committees in the German Bundestag since 1990. In line with theories on the social construction of gender, our descriptive analyses show that women Members of Parliament tend to be over-represented on committees handling issues such as health and family, and under-represented on committees handling issues such as foreign and legal affairs and defence. However, party differences in the over- and under-representation of women on certain committees occur. Gender segregation is strongest within the conservative parties, which also tend to have the lowest proportion of women, and weakest within the left-wing parties.

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Women consistently report lower levels of nascent political ambition than men, which causes problems for the recruitment of women in politics. The aim of this study is to better understand the mechanisms behind this gender gap by simultaneously studying the extent to which gender differences in preferences for and perceptions about the typical goals attained through a political career (power, independence and communal goals) can explain gender differences in political ambition. Using data collected among Belgian political and social sciences students (N = 322), our results provide a strong confirmation of the gender gap in political ambition. We also find substantial gender differences in preferences for and perceptions about goals pursued through political careers. However, these individual-level differences in preferences and perceptions only marginally reduce the gender gap in political ambition, emphasising the need for active political recruitment.

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