Electoral quotas have emerged as one of the critical political reforms of the last two decades. Policies for women have been introduced in more than 100 countries, at the same time that more than 30 states have introduced quotas for minority groups. The recent and global nature of these developments has sparked both scholarly and popular interest, but as an emerging literature points out, debates over quotas are not simply about increasing the numbers of women and minorities elected. Both advocates and opponents predict – albeit in opposing directions – that quotas will have ramifications for a host of representative processes, including legislative diversity, policy-making behavior, public opinion, and patterns of mass mobilization. Existing evidence, however, is not conclusive as to whether electoral quotas constitute a step forward for democracy, or whether they contribute in any way to the broader empowerment of group members.
This workshop seeks to bring together scholars analyzing a variety of empirical cases and using a range of different research methods, with the goal of collectively theorizing, studying, and assessing the broader impact of quotas on politics and society. Submissions are encouraged that address electoral quotas for women or minorities, or both. Political representation is understood broadly to refer not only to legislative presence and policy-making, but also to mass-elite linkages, internal party democracy, and dynamics of democratization, among other possibilities. The directors also encourage proposals that are comparative in some fashion, whether these comparisons involve multiple countries, different groups, levels of government, or facets of representation.