Electoral systems and gender equity redux

Today’s Age reports that, according to research by the Inter-Parliamentary Union:

Women’s representation in parliaments is most likely to increase where there is some sort of system of quotas, an analysis of international elections held last year shows.

Whatever the validity of these claims about the effectiveness of quotas in bringing about increases in women’s representation, the overall figures for parliamentary representation of women continue to show that, as I argued in 2008, electoral systems based on some form of proportional representation produce substantially higher rates of female representation in national parliaments than do non-proportional systems.

I am not optimistic that either proportional representation or quotas for female candidates and/or representation will be sympathetically considered by the newly elected government, but this should not prevent us from discussing these possibilities here.


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5 responses to “Electoral systems and gender equity redux”

  1. Sam

    Women’s representation in parliaments is most likely to increase where there is some sort of system of quotas

    So if there is a law that mandates representation by women, you get more representation by women? Amazing.

    On the proportional representation thingy, that is easily testable. All upper houses in Australia, and two of the lower houses, use PR voting systems. Are there relatively more women there than in the lower houses that do not?

    Jim Carlton, one of the original economic dries in the Liberal Party in the 80s, who retired from politics just when the Howard regime began, once suggested that there should be two members of each of House of Reps seat: one man and one woman.

  2. jungney

    Orright then, I’ll start comments on this. When it comes to gender equity I’m all for quotas. Our Westminster system wouldn’t allow for quotas of elected men and women but the parties could commit to an even split of men and women candidates. There would be shenanigans, of course, and we could expect to see women standing in unwinnable seats but I’m guessing that already happens.

    The only weighty objection to quotas is that it opens the door to expectations of quotas for other forms of personal identity beyond the sex/gender distinction.

    However, other than above, in principle, there are no grounds for objection IMHO.

  3. John D

    I am all in favour of parties having gender quotas provided they are expressed as minimums for both genders rather than female quotas and don’t lead to de-facto discrimination against rans gender people.
    Parties also need to think about the transition process. For example, if quota rules effectively say that all new candidates have to be women until the quota is reached this can mean there will be no new male candidates for years.
    I also think that quota decisions and the way they are implemented are a parties responsibility. The female rights party should not be forced to run male candidates.

  4. don coyote

    Practice what you preach. I propose a gender quota for LP

  5. Moz of Yarramulla

    One positive sign is that some local councils have moved to multi-member electorates, and this has helped somewhat with diversity of representation. It seems to have been done to give minority political party groups a chance in safe seats (ie, ALP councillors in Liberal seats) but has helped with gender balance too. Largely, IMO, because teh greenz have a strong preference for gender balance (and quotas in places IIRC).

    If we could push the nataional system in the same direction I think that would be enormously positive. Even just saying “1/3 of the electorates, 3 members each” would be huge. I suspect there’d be a lot of work on the exact ratio, because inevitably it would result in some redistribution of seats. I’m not sure that state-wide electorates would be useful or a good idea, but the exact division would need a lot of modellling. And presumably require a referendum.