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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter April 7, 2015

Gender quotas and the problem with descriptive representation

Markéta Mottlová
From the journal Human Affairs


The article focuses on descriptive representation, which is a fundamental theoretical concept underpinning the introduction of gender quotas. The main question I consider in the paper is how to overcome the essentialism of descriptive representation. I consider the essentialist line of reasoning as unsustainable because it pays little attention to differences among women. I claim that a possible and desirable solution is based on the concept of gender as seriality-by Iris Marion Young. Although women do not constitute a homogenous group, it is meaningful to talk about women as a group in some sense, specifically as a social collective. In this connection, I highlight the advantages of gender as seriality. Firstly and most importantly, it overcomes the essentialism of descriptive representation. Secondly, the concept of gender as seriality enables us to identify the barriers faced by women in politics. Finally, it highlights why quotas are legitimate tools that can be used to increase women’s political representation


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Published Online: 2015-4-7
Published in Print: 2015-4-1

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