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Do Government Positions Held by Women Matter? A Cross-National Examination of Female Ministers' Impacts on Women's Political Participation

July 2016

Shan-Jan Sarah Liu , Lee Ann Banaszak


This article examines both the effects that representation of women in parliament and in cabinet positions has on women’s political participation in parliamentary systems. The researchers found that legislative representation did not have an impact on women’s political participation. However, when cabinet representation increases, so do women’s political participation, especially with activities closely associated with the electoral process (such as voting and party membership). Women were still no more likely to join boycotts or strikes in either scenario, but this makes sense as those actions are costly, controversial, and not closely tied with the electoral process.

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Policy Implications

Placing women in active, highly visible places of power (such as parliamentary cabinets) has a real effect on women. When women see other women highly involved in politics, they also feel as though they can be a part of the process. They see opportunities for their own success and stop seeing politics as a “man’s game.” This means that one of the keys to getting women to participate in the political process more is not just electing more women, but also elevating those women into strong positions.

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