Helms School of Government


Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy (PhD)


Melissa Beaudoin


Gender Quotas, Infant Mortality, Public Policy, Electoral Systems, Women in Politics, Legislative Politics


Political Science | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration


Legislative gender quota policies are political rules which are designed and implemented with the goal of increasing the representational presence and influence of women in government. Fundamentally, representation operates along two separate dimensions and can be considered as either descriptive or substantive. Descriptive representation is the numerical proportion of a group within a deliberative assembly while substantive representation concerns the ability of a group to shape influence policy outcomes in accordance with their preferences. Past research into legislative gender quotas has been prolific but has also been largely focused upon the tendency of quotas to shape the descriptive dimension of representation. This research considers representation comprehensively, and is intended to discern how quotas along both dimensions of representation. Substantive representation can be discerned through consideration of a wide number of policy issues that are considered "women's issues." For the purpose of this research, only the one policy outcome of infant mortality is considered, because of its strong theoretical connection to women as opposed to men due to the unique role of women as mothers and primary care givers. It is expected that as women gain descriptive representational power as a consequence of legislative gender quota policies that their substantive representational power should also be affected resulting in lower levels of infant mortality as a consequence of public policies that are produced. The results from this analysis indicate that the ordinal power of gender quotas is inversely associated with infant mortality, while higher thresholds for quotas are positively related to infant mortality.