‘The first, but not the last’: Women's descriptive and substantive representation in the 2021 Scottish Parliament election

Emilia Belknap*, Meryl Kenny

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The 2021 Scottish Parliament election delivered the most diverse range of MSPs in Holyrood’s history, including a record number of women. We situate the 2021 election within its wider context, evaluating dynamics of party feminisation over time. Drawing on original candidate data and analysis of party manifestos across the main Scottish parties, we assess parties’ substantive appeals to women voters; the integration of different groups of women as candidates, MSPs and leaders; and the adoption and implementation of gender quotas. We find evidence of descriptive and substantive party feminisation in Scotland over time—including increases in both the amount and diversity of party manifesto pledges directed at women voters; improvements in the number and diversity of women selected and elected; and the increasing diffusion of, and inter-party competition over, gender quota measures. Yet we also find that progress has been uneven across parties and that some groups of women continue to be descriptively and substantively under-represented in Scottish politics.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Politics
Early online date25 Nov 2023
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Nov 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • women's representation
  • Scottish Parliament
  • party feminisation
  • gender quotas
  • candidate selection
  • party manifestos

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