The Impact of Female Cabinet Ministers on a Female-Friendly Labor Environment

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Journal of Women, Politics & Policy






The literature indicates that the representation of women in legislatures is positively associated with the passage of female-friendly social policy (e.g., child care or family leave). However, there is little corresponding research concerning the effects of women in cabinet on female-friendly social policy. I argue that this gap must be addressed, because most of the advanced industrial democracies are parliamentary democracies in which policies typically originate at the cabinet level, and governments typically enjoy substantial control over the legislative process. Thus, women in cabinet positions should be ideally placed to promote female-friendly policies; indeed, they are likely to be in a better position to promote these policies than their legislative counterparts. The purpose of this study is to analyze the role of female cabinet ministers in the adoption of female-friendly policies, thus addressing this gap in the gender and politics literature. It should be noted that the influence of female officeholders on female-friendly policy may differ by policy. To assess female officeholders’ effect on female friendly policy in general, I create an index measure using 17 variables related to these policy areas. Using ordinary least squares (OLS) regression, I find that female ministers have a significant effect on the adoption of policies that help to create a more female-friendly working environment.

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