Why Aren't They There?

The Political Representation of Women, Ethnic Groups and Issue Positions in Legislatures

Didier Ruedin,

Why Aren't They There?: The Political Representation of Women, Ethnic Groups and Issue Positions in Legislatures
Why Aren't They There? is a comprehensive study of political representation in a cross-national format. It examines the representation of women, ethnic groups, and policy positions in a cross-country comparison.

The book includes an analysis of the representation of women over time, and presents a critical view of the effectiveness of quotas. Using new data on ethnic groups in legislatures, the book is a significant step forward in the analysis of political representation. The representation of issue positions is examined in eight policy domains. The systematic approach of the book allows a ground-breaking examination of how different forms of representation – women, ethnic groups, issue positions – are interlinked.

It examines aspects that are unattainable in studies focusing on only a single form of representation. This results in a comprehensive understanding of political representation, and leads to important and policy-relevant insights for electoral engineering.


“An excellent piece of work that jointly discusses two dimensions and two groups that have been studied too often apart from one another: descriptive and substantive representation, and women and ethnic groups. It uses new and rich data, the hypotheses are well embedded in the existing theories and empirical research and the research design and methods are intelligent. It is furthermore, well written and comprehensive.

In short: a must-read for scholars interested in representation and representativeness of today’s legislatures.”

Karen Celis,
Research Professor,
Vrije Universiteit Brussel and co-convenor of the ECPR Standing Group on Gender and Politics.

“Ruedin adds to our understanding of political representation with an impressive comparative study of the gender and ethnic composition of national legislatures, two largely separate research fields; the representation of women and of ethnic groups. Alongside this he assembles relevant material from literature on parties, electoral studies, feminist research and political theory; using it to develop a single integrated theoretical framework and to develop hypotheses, which he tests on multiple data sources (including new data and the World Values Survey).

Why aren’t they there? is a comprehensive and significant addition to the literature on this topic and should be compulsory reading for all students of political representation.”

Dr Rosie Campbell,
Senior Lecturer in Politics,
School of Politics and Sociology,
Birkbeck, University of London.

“This is a careful and thorough study that explores both the representation of groups and the representation of ideas provides a benchmark for future research in this field. Ruedin examines the descriptive representation of women, ethnic groups and substantive representation in general, using a large–N comparative approach. The exploration of empirical of theories of representation with such a varied set of focii is impressive, and is a necessary step if we are to accept theories evolved in one area that are claimed to be of more general application.

His results provide something of a challenge to the orthodoxy of institutionalism since he finds mechanisms like quotas and even electoral systems have relatively weak effects, while various measures of, and proxies for, cultural variations appear to have more impact. While this book will not be the last word on these topics, Ruedin's work cannot be ignored by anyone working on this topic in the future.”

Michael Marsh,
Professor of Comparative Political Behaviour,
Trinity College Dublin.

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