In general, every country has two choices when it comes to getting women involved in politics; they can either encourage women’s participation in politics or implement policies that require parties and parliament to have a certain proportion of women holding elected offices (Stokes, 2005: 78). The second option requires that the party adopts the gender quota system which is a number of seats reserved for women (Stokes, 2005:77). Ever since quotas have been adopted and diffused across nations, the proportion of women in national legislature has increased from the period of 1975 to 1995 (Caul; 2001:1214). This goes to show that the adoption of quota policies have facilitated women’s entrance into politics. However, the road to adoption of the quotas policies has been influenced by several factors: political and societal (Caul; 2001), as well as parties’ culture and characteristics (Stokes 2005, Chapter 1). The rationale behind using quota policies is that the more women are present in legislative politics, the more chances women will have the chance to influence policy (Lyn: 1994: 560). Lyn Kathlene examines women’s presence and behaviours in a Colorado state in legislature hearing committees to test for their input in policy making and debates. The question that this paper seeks to answer if whether or not women get to influence policy making once in office, like advocates hoped for? We will see that to a certain extent it is possible to observe women’s impact in the decision making process. Although other pressures such cultural, negative conversational dynamics between men and women are present it does not decrease the rate of women’s participation in political decision making process. Instead it exposes the negative response that women have received from their male colleagues.
To be able to answer our question and test our hypothesis, we will first look at the factors that influence parties to adopt gender quota policies then we will review the findings of Kathlene Lyn on women’s influence on public policy. And finally, we will discuss the findings.
Influences of Gender Quota Policies
A country’s decision to adopt gender quota policies is influenced by many factors that are worth examining. Miki Caul suggests reviewing: women activists, electoral systems, diffusion and competition and party characteristics. We will only review women activists for the simple fact that this is the only factor that can answer the question that this paper asks. The idea is to understand how this critical mass has managed to influence public policy . Whether it is by applying pressure to parties or national government to adopt gender quota policies as an non public servant, or having the critical proportion of women present in the policy making process
The idea of critical mass comes from the assumption that the entrance of a minority group in a traditionally controlled space by male might induce change to occur. In other words it is a small portion of...