Underrepresentation of women in politics is a matter of great concern to social scientists, citizens, and policymakers alike. Despite effort over the past decade to ameliorate it with gender quotas of different types, scientific research provides a mixed picture on the extent to which quotas can close these gender gaps under different conditions. We approach this puzzle by focusing on the orientation of electoral systems-candidate-centered vs. platform-centered-as a context that conditions the effect of quotas on representation. Our analyses of 76 countries' electoral rules and legislatures show that contrary to expectations, it is in candidate-oriented systems that quotas facilitate stronger effect on women's representation. Even after considering proportional representation, district magnitude, human development, or labor-force participation as alternative explanations, we show that quotas foster greater increases in gender representation in candidate-oriented systems. The broader implications are that in electoral systems that tend to have larger gender gaps, quotas have a substantial contribution to equal representation.
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© 2021 Forman-Rabinovici, Nir. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.