Leading by example: female members of parliament as political role models

  • Wolbrecht C
  • Campbell D
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Abstract

JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. One argument advanced in favor of descriptive representation is that female politicians serve as role models, inspiring other women to political activity. While previous research finds female role models affect women's psychological engagement, few studies report an impact on women's active participation, and none have done so in cross-national research. Our work also is the first to consider whether the impact offemale role models is, as the term implies, greater among the young. Using three cross-national datasets, we find that where there are more female members of parliament (MPs), adolescent girls are more likely to discuss politics with friends and to intend to participate in politics as adults, and adult women are more likely to discuss and participate in politics. The presence offemale MPs registers the same effect on political discussion regardless of age, but the impact on women's political activity is far greater among the young than the old.

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Authors

  • Christina Wolbrecht

  • David E. Campbell

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