Informal Influences in Selecting Female Political Candidates
Unlike the US, the nomination of party candidates for the Canadian Parliament is solely the prerogative of the local party associations, and local presidents are in a position to both formally and informally influence the nomination of candidates. This research looked at “party gatekeepers” (local party presidents) from the five major political parties in the 2004 and 2006 Canadian national elections and found an important relationship between the gender of party gatekeepers and who ultimately is nominated to run for office. They found; gatekeepers are more likely to directly recruit and promote people like themselves, the professional and social networks of women gatekeepers are more likely to include qualified women who would be suitable parliamentary candidates which increases the opportunities for direct recruitment of female candidates and sends an encouraging signal to potential female candidates that women are welcome and can be active in politics, creating a virtuous cycle of participation.
The authors argue that the gender composition of party gatekeepers—those responsible for candidate recruitment— plays a crucial role in either encouraging or discouraging women candidates to run for office. Using an original data set that includes constituency-level information for all parties and candidates in the 2004 and 2006 Canadian national elections, the authors find support for this proposition. Women candidates are more likely to be nominated when the gatekeeper—the local party president—is a woman rather than a man. The results underline the importance of informal factors for understanding women’s political underrepresentation.
Cheng, C., & Tavits, M. (2009). Informal Influences in Selecting Female Political Candidates Political Research Quarterly, 64 (2), 460-471 DOI: 10.1177/1065912909349631