Politikk teller, kjønnsroller avgjør. Om kjønnsfordelingen i 30 europeiske parlamenter
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Even though most political scientists writing on gender presence in parliaments tend to focus on either socioeconomic or political factors, my finding is that gender roles is the factor with the most explanatory power. Those scientists that until now have been writing on culture often ignore the construction of gender as more than an effect of broader societal values as religion or postmaterialism, even though there are some exceptions (as Paxton and Kunovich 2003, and Wilcox, Stark and Thomas 2003). My purpose is to identify the causes for the variation of gender presences in 30 European parliaments, and while doing so, I add a queer perspective to comparative politics. I follow Butler (2004: 1) in treating gender as ”a practice of improvisation within a scene of constraint”. The practice can be partly detected through socioeconomic measures, even though this is not an easy task on a macro level. The scene of constraint I do identify as related to perceptions of gender roles. As such, I treat gender as a purely socially constructed concept, and I argue that how gender is constructed socially, culturally and politically will have great impact on the presence of women and men in parliament. The concept of gender has not been challenged in comparative politics, but rather treated as a prediscursive premise on which politics are constructed. I see gender as a ”doing” rather than ”being”, and therefore as something that is constructed through discourses. I think this perspective brings some new implications both for politics and political science, as both need to take into account how gender is constructed, in practice as well as by constraints. I identify three main categories of explanatory (independent) variables in the literature on gender presence in parliaments, and devote a chapter to each; socioeconomic (on one hand practices as labour market participation and education, and on the other broad societal measures on economic development), cultural (values and norms), and political (party system and electoral arrangements) variables. Through bivariate regression analysis, I identify some variables with more explanatory power on the dependent variable (presence of women in parliaments) than others, and through a multiple regression analysis, I end up with an interactional model. The numbers of women and men in parliaments are explained by gender roles modified by the political system, and this model can statistically explain 64,2 percent of the variation in gender presence of the various European parliaments, and hence my rewriting of Stein Rokkan’s famous quote1 into ”Politics count, gender roles decide”.