"Engendering" Politics: The Impact of Descriptive Representation on Women's Political Engagement in Sub-Saharan Africa

Tiffany D. Barnes, Stephanie M. Burchard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

123 Scopus citations

Abstract

Globally, there is a significant gender gap in political engagement between men and women; however, this gender gap varies both across countries and within countries over time. Previous research has argued that the inclusion of women in elite political positions encourages women's political engagement at the citizen level-by augmenting women's symbolic representation-and can reduce this gender gap. Using Afrobarometer data from 20 African countries across four waves of surveys from 1999 to 2008, we employ an interactive multilevel model that controls for the sex of the respondent, the percentage of women in the legislature, and the interaction of these two variables. We find that as women's descriptive representation increases, the political engagement gender gap diminishes. This finding is robust across several measures of political engagement. Our findings suggest that the incorporation of women into political institutions encourages the political engagement of women at the citizen level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)767-790
Number of pages24
JournalComparative Political Studies
Volume46
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2013

Keywords

  • descriptive representation
  • political engagement
  • sub-Saharan Africa
  • symbolic representation
  • women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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