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  • Tiffany Barnes Lecture

Dr. Tiffany Barnes

Department of Political Science

University of Kentucky

The Effect of Gender Quotas on Legislative Diversity

Diversity in the characteristics of political leaders increases the quality of policy, perceptions of legitimacy, and accountability to constituents. Yet, increasing leaders’ diversity proves one of the most difficult challenges facing modern democracy. Efforts like gender quotas shift descriptive representation on the targeted characteristic, but critics argue that women selected via quotas are as homogenous as those selected via traditional methods. In this article, we theorize that quotas (re)conceptualize views of potential political leaders and transform party recruiting networks. In doing so, quotas increase the diversity of all leaders in office. We evaluate these claims with a new measure of diversity and a dataset of over 1,700 legislators in Argentinian sub-national government. We show that quotas increase the professional and personal diversity of women and men in office over time, suggesting that electoral gender quotas transform parties, political networks, and how women (and men) perceive political office.