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Miki Caul, "Women's Representation in Parliament: The Role of Political Parties," Party Politics, 5 (January 1999), 79-98.

First Paragraph:
Women are still under-represented in the parliaments of all advanced industrial democracies. In 1997 women averaged only 12 percent of the membership of national parliaments worldwide (Inter-Parliamentary Union, 1997). Thus, women participate little in the national decision-making process and this under-representation also exists at lower levels of government. The severe under-representation of one-half of the population not only limits the diversity of parliaments but also contradicts one of the central tenets of representative democracy.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1: Women MP's by party (%)
Table 2: Bivariate correlations among party characteristics and women's representation
Figure 1: Women MP's by party type (average percentage)
Figure 2: Party-level influences on women's representation: a causal model
Table 3: Multivariate analyses 1989

Last Paragraph:
National-level research has identified structural factors that influence under-representation, most specifically the type of electoral system. These structural factors are difficult to change. However, there are opportunities for activists to effect change, even through conventional channels of participation. Because parties are vote-seeking organizations they can be pressured to promote minority candidates. As the gatekeepers to parliamentary office, the parties' efforts can directly increase the proportion of underrepresented groups in parliament.