Research Question: Why do so few women participate in politics of the modern world?

Brief Introduction: Although women in the modern world usually have more opportunities and chances for participation in politics and electorate offices than their predecessors, they often cannot use these possibilities properly because of prejudices and myths regarding their skills and abilities. This paper aims to investigate the reason of such a state of affairs. It will provide data on the average rate of women participation in politics in different countries and investigate what are some factors that influence such outcomes. Moreover, it will explain the difference between the notions of ‘equality’ and ‘fairness.’ The aim of the paper is to examine the various causes and effects that pertain to the research question and to provide some suggestions for future studies on women participation in politics in the modern world.

Ballington, Julie. Equality in Politics: A Survey of Women and Men in Parliaments. Geneva, Switzerland: PCL, Lausanne. (2008). Accessed September 11, 2015. //

Julie Ballington, the author of this report is a researcher of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). The IPU is a well-known organization for its gathering of data and handbooks production in the field of gender equality in politics. The author argues that women participation in parliament could improve the decision making process since would take into account other women views. The article is a research on women in politics, which was being conducted for more than thirty years. In this report, Ballington writes about the findings, which include the responses of parliamentarians from different countries. The author describes the possible advantages and disadvantages that men and women might experience in politics. The purposes of the report are to identify whether men and women differ in their political priorities, to illustrate the current situation with gender in the politics of different countries, and to focus on different methods of gender equality’s promotion in this field. The research focuses on the quantitative representation of men and women in politics as well as the obstacles for women’s access to participation in parliament. The report includes a great number of figures which demonstrate the difference between men and women participating in various spheres. In addition, Ballington focuses on the importance of quotas for women. Moreover, the report explains the usual areas of focus for women, which can create a barrier for their participation in politics. Among these areas of focus are social issues, physical concerns, and development. The data is given in percentages and numbers. Ballington provides every piece of information in a convenient way, utilizing tables, figures, and schemes. The writing style is accessible for a range of audiences since it is very easy to understand and readable. The article is quite relevant to my thesis because it directly relates to my research topic and suggests some of the ways for improvement of the current situation regarding women and politics, such as making parliamentary process more family-friendly, engaging training on gender equality, and developing partnership between men and women.

GOPAC Global Secretariat. “Gender Equality in Parliaments and Political Corruption.”Position Paper 1, no. 2 (2014). Accessed September 11, 2015. //

GOPAC is a worldwide association of parliamentarians which conducted a research on participation of women in parliament and its influence on the levels of corruption. The article examines women involvement in parliament in different countries, such as Rwanda, Scandinavian and Arab countries.  It compares the number of women members of the parliaments in 2003 and 2013. The purpose of the article is to show the relation between the number of women members of parliament and the level of perceived corruption. The authors of the article assert that women’s participation in parliament and politics could decrease the level of corruption in these spheres. The main expressed idea is the inverse correlation between the number of women in a legislative body and the level of bribery. Support for this claim is represented in the case study of Rwanda. The article describes Rwanda as the only country where the women make up a majority of senate. By utilizing this example, the authors of the paper illustrate a considerable decrease in level of corruption, which is, by their claims, interconnected with participation of women in the parliament. Towards the end of the paper, the authors provide some recommendations for the improvement of women’s participation in politics and legislative bodies. The main limitation of the article is that it lacks a particular theoretical approach. Nevertheless, it makes the language of the article accessible to a large audience. Moreover, the article is also quite useful for my research topic since it provides the data about the percentage of women parliamentarians in different countries. I will use this information as evidence for my claim.

Inglehart, Ronald, Pippa Norris, and Christian Welzel. “Gender Equality and Democracy.” Harvard Kennedy School. (2004). Accessed September 11, 2015. //

Ronald, Norris, and Welzel are distinguished American sociologists and political scientists. In this article, the authors review some cultural theories of the barriers for women’s participation in politics, government, and elections. They provide a brief historical overview of the women’s representation in these fields and explain their findings. The authors’ purpose is to provide enough persuasion for the society to change its view on the gender role and values. The main expressed ideas relate to cultural attitudes towards women in politics, the connection between democratization and the number of women in politics as well as explanation of the concepts of gender equality and democracy. The political scientists have conducted a research of the correlation between the level of democracy in a society and gender equality. The article compares the values of survival and self-expression values of men and women. They support their investigation with various surveys and figures. The authors provide some theoretical explanations for gender inequality. The theories that they explain are supported by well-known researchers, such as Sapiro, Carroll, Lovenduski, Karvonen, Selle, Kenworthy, Malami, etc. There is sufficient amount of supporting evidence, such as different surveys and tables with numbers. The main limitation of this article is that is based on outdated resources. However, this article is relevant to my research topic since it explains the reason for why women did not participate in politics as much as men ten years ago. Because the information comes from a reliable source, it will be useful as a piece of evidence for my research to compare the data of 2004 and more contemporary information I have found in other articles.


Lawless, Jenifer L. and Richard L. Fox. “Men Rule: The Continued Under-Representation of Women in U.S Politics.” Women & Politics Institute. (2012). Accessed September 11, 2015. //

The authors of the article are Associate Professors of Government and Political Science. They are the authors and co-authors of several other academic articles, and Lawless is a nationally recognized speaker on issues of women politics. Thus, the article can be regarded as a reliable source. In this article, the authors dispute the notion that the main reason for women’s lower participation in political affairs is that they do not run for the office. Lawless and Fox describe their survey of 4,000 participants and compare the results to a similar survey they conducted in 2001. The main points of the article are the gender gap in political ambition, gender differences in various spheres of life, and comparison of men’s and women’s reactions and types of behavior in various situations. The authors’ research focuses on self-assessment of the surveys’ participant. Lawless and Fox have started and guided the Citizen Political Ambition Study, in which they interviewed some prospective political candidates. Data of support for the claims is represented in the form of tables with numbers and percentage. The writing style is accessible for a wide range of audiences since it is easily readable and understandable even for the uninformed individuals. The authors do not provide theoretical approaches; however, their study is also very useful for my research topic since it describes the reasons of gender inequality in politics. Because the information is up-to-date and comes from a reliable source, I can use it to support my claims. In particular, this article will assist me in providing the data on the percentage of men and women in politics and in other spheres.

Shvedova, Nadezhda. “Obstacles to Women’s Participation in Parliament.” In Women In Parliament: Beyond Numbers, edited by Julie Ballington and Azza Karam, 33-49. Stockholm: International IDEA, 2005. Accessed September 12, 2015. //

The author of this chapter is a political scientist. In this chapter, Shvedova reviews the main reasons of women’s underrepresentation in parliament. The author describes such political obstacles for participation as the masculine-oriented model of politics, lack of party support, cooperations with women’s organizations and electoral systems. Furthermore, the article examines the following socio-economic obstacles: feminization of poverty and unemployment, the dual burden, education and training. The author also provides some ideological and psychological hindrances to women’s participation in politics. The author’s purpose is to challenge these obstacles and show important changes in this field could be implemented. The main limitation of the article is the lack of data and examples. However, the main theme is well-developed and well-supported. Thus, I will use this article for my research since it can provide some insight to my research question.

UNICEF. “Women and Politics: Realities and Myths.” (2006). Accessed September 12, 2015. //

This is not an academic article but it is still a very useful source for my research. The information is provided by the UNICEF, and I suppose it to be a credible source since it is a renowned international organization. This article examines the reasons for women’s lower participation in politics and reveals some myths about women in politics, such as women are unsuited to the “hard” jobs and they will treat other women and children better than men. The article debunks these myths. The claim is supported by data from the World Values Survey that demonstrates that a majority of the populations in different countries believe that men are better leaders than women. The information presented is relevant and up-to-date; thus, I will use it as evidence for my research.

Verba, Sidney. “Political Equality: What Is It? Why Do We Want It?” (2001). Accessed September 11, 2015. //

Sidney Verba is an American political scientist and a librarian. He is the author of several hundreds of academic works and publications, which is significant for the political science. This adds credibility and reliability to his articles and academic sources. In this work, the author examines the reasons of why people need and want political equality and why some people do not want it. For instance, equality is unnecessary because it will make each voice weaker; moreover, ill-informed citizens could worsen the situation with democracy. The author focuses on the level of political participation. The author’s purpose it to study and explore topics of equal capacity and equal voice. The chief expressed ideas are the citizen’s involvement in voting process, politician’s representation, and political parity. The author’s claims are supported by some of the very well-known researchers in this field, such as Zaller, Ginsberg, Jacobs and Shapiro, Brady and Schlozman, Kelly and Stimson, etc. Some of these researchers are more than fifteen years old, the others are more recent. However, the majority of information is up-to-date; that is why it is noteworthy for my research topic. Even though the author writes about political equality in general, I can use this work for my thesis since it explains the reasons of why some people participate in politics and the others cannot. Moreover, Verba provides one figure, in which he compares the states with women senators in the USA. There is a lack of supporting evidence about women in politics; however, based on the research, one can make a conclusion about it. At the end of the article, the author provides several ways of equalizing of participation. This article is useful for my research topic since it may help in explaining the meanings of political participation and equality.

Verba, Sidney. “Fairness, Equality, and Democracy: Three Big Words.” Social Research 73, no. 2 (2006): 499-540. Accessed September 11, 2015. //

In this article, Verba reviews the notions of fairness and equality in the democratic societies. He explains what is meant by the notion of fairness in a democratic country. The author’s purpose is to define the notion of equal voice and to argue about its importance for a just democracy. The article examines the conditions that help to make the voices of the citizens equal. Thus, the author claims that equal voices would help to create a state of political fairness. The author explains the difference between the concepts of political fairness and equality and describes the interrelation of democracy and these two notions. Even though there is a lack of supporting information about women in politics (it regards only African American women), the article gives a possibility to understand the reasons for political inequality and unfairness. Verba has conducted a thorough investigation of the political equality’s and political voice’s stages. The article is useful for my research topic since it explains the notions of ‘equality’ and ‘fairness’.

Wadesango, Newman. “Is Gender Equality Still an Issue? Tensions and Contradictions Embedding the Work of Feminists Today.” J Soc Sci 26, no. 3 (2011): 163-169. Accessed September 11, 2015. //

Newman Wadesango reviews the place of feminism in the modern world and argues about gender inequality. Though the most of examples are focused on the African countries, the situation is rather similar in other countries, such as Cuba or even the USA. The main ideas expressed are women’s participation in politics and the limitations of gender equality, such as women illiteracy and disempowerment. The author’s purpose is to challenge the idea that problem of gender inequality cannot be resolved. Wadesango argues that women can be successful in politics if they want to be. The author’s research focuses on various changes that influence feminists today. The claims are supported by some official documents, reports, articles as well as unpublished dissertations. Thus, the article is based on quite reliable sources since it is up-to-date and it contains valuable scientific data. The main limitation of the article is that it is concentrating on the African counties. However, the author provides some examples of gender inequality in other countries. Moreover, Wadesango names various measures taken in order to protect women’s rights. This article is useful for my research topic since it explains the tensions, contradictions, and limitations of women’s participation in politics.


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