A15(a) - Gender and Canadian Politics
Date: Jun 6 | Time: 08:45am to 10:15am | Location: SWING 106
Chair/Président/Présidente : Anna Johnson (University of Toronto)
Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Melanee Thomas (University of Calgary)
Is Politics Worth It? A Reappraisal of Gendered Barriers to Political Candidacy in Canada: Angelia Wagner (University of Alberta)
Abstract: Women have made impressive gains in political representation since the first group got the vote in 1917, but gender parity remains an elusive goal in Canadian legislatures in the early 21st century. While extensive research has examined the barriers to women’s political ambitions after they become candidates, less attention has been paid to what keeps women from entering politics in the first place. Why do different groups of women choose not to run for elected office? How important are traditional factors such as fundraising, childcare, and self-confidence in deterring women from becoming political candidates? What other new or previously overlooked factors might discourage women’s political ambitions? To answer these questions, this paper draws upon semi-structured interviews with 101 Canadians of diverse genders, races/ethnicities, sexualities, classes, and ages who have run, might run, and refuse to run for elected office to understand their perspectives on the drawbacks of political candidacy. Early findings indicate that concerns related to social media scandals and online attacks; public scrutiny and privacy; employment and occupational norms; and partisanship and policy alignment with political parties have led many women to be hesitant about running. By taking a feminist intersectional approach, this study makes an important contribution to our understanding of why descriptive representation in legislatures remains an elusive goal in the 21st century. It also offers insights that policymakers and activists can draw upon to improve recruitment and training for women interested in elected office.
Gender and Nomination Contests: An Analysis of How Many Women Ran and Won in Nomination Contests for the 2015 Canadian Election: Grace Lore (University of Victoria), Daniel Westlake (University of Victoria)
Abstract: Women remain under-represented in Canadian politics and progress has been slow. Nomination remains a major hurdle on the path to elected office with women making up fewer than one-in-three candidates for Canada’s major parties in the 2015 election. Evidence indicates that voters in Canada do not discriminate against women at the ballot box, (Black and Erickson, 2003; Young, 2006; Bashevkin, 2011; Blais et al., 2002; Goodyear- Grant, 2010), meaning the nomination of women in winnable or competitive ridings is central to pursuit of equal representation in Canada’s Parliament. Research indicates that women are more likely to be parachuted in by party leaders (Bittner and Koop, 2011), less likely to run with parties on the right, more likely to run in the strong hold of another party (Thomas and Bodet, 2013), and less likely to be nominated in ridings where men serve as the local party president (Cheng and Tavits, 2011). The dynamics of the nomination races behind these patterns, however, remain unknown. We also do not know whether the nomination of relatively few women is the result of self-selection, or whether women are putting their name forward and are losing the nomination. This paper explores nomination races for the 2015 federal election. It examines whether women run, whether they do so in contested or uncontested nominations, and how often they win, lose, and withdraw. We also explore dynamics of competitiveness to test sacrificial lamb theories. Finally, we break this data down by party.
Protective Moms vs Carefree Dads? How do MPs Portray their Family Lives on Social Media?: Amanda Bittner (Memorial University of Newfoundland), Michelle Irving (Memorial University of Newfoundland)
Abstract: Recent research shows gendered patterns in the way that parents working in the House of Commons present their personal lives to the public. Thomas and Lambert (2017) assess campaign mailers, websites, and conducted interviews with parliamentarians, and find that moms working in the House of Commons are less likely than dads to share information about their families (especially children) in promotional materials and websites. Citing concerns about security, bullying, and trolling, political moms seek to protect children from the public eye, while dads worry less about this. Bullying and trolling are (unfortunately) well-known features of the internet, and with the increasing web presence of legislators (including reliance upon social media to communicate with constituents) we suspect that MPs consider security and safety of their families when deciding what to highlight in social media feeds. In this paper, we build on Thomas and Lambert (2017), turning our attention to the analysis of legislators’ social media presence, to determine whether there are gendered patterns in the extent to which MPs openly talk about their families online. How do patterns of self-presentation of family life vary by sex and party of the MP? We assess the twitter feeds of all MPs in the House of Commons from December 2010 (6 months before the 2011 federal election) to the present, to better understand how legislators present their family lives to the public during the most recent two parliaments. Our research suggests political careers are “different” for moms and dads, with different constraints and concerns.