Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation


Political Science

First Advisor

Lee Walker


While there is an increase in interest in gender and women studies through the lenses of comparative politics frameworks; i.e. political culture, structure and economy; there are many controversies and gaps in explaining why women are underrepresented and/or varied in national parliaments. The study examines women's representation variation and deficit in national parliaments in 67 countries worldwide. Women's representation is explained through the lenses of both political culture (religion and sub-religious groups; region) and political structure (quota law; electoral systems; government type). The disaggregation of religion and sub-religious groups is one of the major contributions in explaining women's representation. The application of both legislative and party quota law also explains women's representation- especially among small legislature size in communitarian countries.

The findings suggest that: among the cultural explanation: (1) Only Lutheran Christian countries are significantly different from Islamic and Buddhist countries. (2) Calvinist countries are not different from Islamic countries. (3) No significant different between Shiá and Sunni countries in the Islamic world as anticipated, but there is an interaction between those Islamic that are communitarian (Shia) and have quota law which tend to produce higher women's representation. Findings among the structural realm suggest that: (1) In quota rule countries, as the size of parliament increases and the longer quotas are in place, the percentage of women in parliament declines. This suggests that women are more isolated in larger sized parliaments and more integrated in smaller sized parliaments. (2) The conceptual interaction between the religious orientation of the country (Communitarian versus Individual organic) and the application of quota law suggest that women's representation is higher among communitarian countries with quotas. (3) The Catholic and Lutheran countries that use quotas have higher proportion of women in the legislature than do Sunni countries that uses quotas. (4) Lutheran countries with quotas have higher women's representation than Calvinist and Sunni countries with quotas. Those results confirm that both political culture and political structure approaches matter in explaining women's representation.


© 2012, Wafaa Adnan Alaradi