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Gender Differences in Issue Attention

Monday December 3, 2018, at 13:30
Room 24.019 (Ground floor). Mercè Rodoreda 24 building
Research seminar

Gender differences in issue attention are a common feature of most political systems. This research project is aimed to explain male and female differences in issue attention taking as explanatory variables: MPs individual features --gender, and seniority--, institutional factors --party discipline and feminization of political institutions--, and/or party ideology.  The analysis relies on a comprehensive dataset of more than 25.000 oral questions asked by individual MPs in plenary and committee sessions in Spain from 1996 to 2018, developed by www.q-dem.com.  Preliminary results indicate descriptive representation do not automatically lead to substantial representation. Overall, female MPs pay significantly more attention to issues that traditionally are labelled as "women issues" --mainly education, social and rights related issues--.  Yet, gender differences in issue attention significantly decrease as female MPs become more senior, and occupy leading roles in parliamentary committees --become the chair or speaker of a parliamentary committee--, or the executive --female Minister--. Finally, results indicate gender differences significantly vary between left and right wing political parties. 

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Laura Chaqués Bonafont is Professor of Political Science at the University of Barcelona, and research fellow at the Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals (IBEI). She is leading the research group “Quality of Democracy” (www.Q-dem.com) aimed to analyze the interrelation between the governmental, parliamentarian and media agendas across time, issues, countries and levels of government in Spain in a comparative perspective. The project establishes a link between policy dynamics research and other areas of concern within political science, mainly media studies, political representation and the quality of democracy in multilevel systems of governance. It also provides new tools for the development of quantitative measurement of policy dynamics. Her last book is Agenda Dynamics in Spain (Palgrave 2015 with Frank Baumgartner and A. Palau). Her work also appears in academic journals like Comparative Political Studies, The British Journal of Political Science, West European Politics, Political Communication, or the Journal of Public Policy among others. At present her main research interests are the analysis of agenda dynamics in a comparative perspective paying especial attention to the role of the media, and interest groups, and the analysis of the quality of democracy in multilevel systems of governance. To do that, she collaborates actively with the comparative agendas project (www.comparativeagendas.net), aimed to provide new tools for the quantitative analysis of agenda dynamics across time, countries, policy issues and levels of governance. In 2014 she won the ICREA academia prize.