“Gender, Deliberation and Institutions” by Tali Mendelberg
May 27th, 2016
Scholars and policy-makers have worked for decades to understand and to improve the representation women receive from national and international political organizations. Many of these efforts have focused on increasing the number of women in decision-making bodies. Through ground-breaking experimental research, The Silent Sex argues that these efforts to increase and improve the representation of women will often fall short unless they also address institutional rules that impede women’s voices. Unbalanced institutional rules can offset the positive consequences of increasing the number of women in a deliberative body. Group composition and procedures interact to either advance women’s authority or hamper it. Similar rules have different impacts depending on the balance between men and women. Men and women enter deliberative settings facing different expectations about their influence and authority. The wrong institutional rules can exacerbate women’s deficit of authority; the right rules can elevate women’s authority. These rules increase women’s participation, establish more cooperative norms of group behavior, and can have important consequences for the descriptive and substantive representation of women and their interests.