xxiv Introduction as do countries with strong Catholic or Orthodox roots (Kenworthy and Malami 1999). But, as the following chapters show, traditional cultures are not confined to these contexts. Aspiring and existing women representa- tives must contend with traditional cultures and gender attitudes to vary- ing degrees across regions. In contrast, countries with an egalitarian culture are more likely to elect women to political office, as both women and men are seen as capa- ble political leaders. Countries where women won the right to vote early on and countries with strong women’s movements typically have a more egali- tarian culture. Likewise, societies are more open to gender equality when people are better educated, less religious, and women are part of the work- force. A typical example for egalitarian countries are those in Scandinavia, which traditionally have had a high proportion of women in politics (see chapter 3). While there is a link between political culture and women’s descriptive representation, evidence has been mixed and by itself cannot explain the number of women in politics (Henderson and Jeydel 2014). To summarize, there are three major barriers to women’s political rep- resentation: institutional, socioeconomic, and cultural. Of these three, institutional factors—most noticeably the electoral system and the pres- ence of electoral gender quotas—have the greatest impact on women’s representation, as all the following chapters show. In contrast, socioeco- nomic and cultural barriers are potential barriers but cannot explain wom- en’s absence from politics by themselves. In most cases, it is a combination of barriers that keep women out of politics. WOMEN AS LEADERS Women are not only absent from parliament but also from executive office most countries have never had a woman president or prime minis- ter. It depends on a country’s constitution which one is the more powerful position. Often, one position is elected and the other appointed. The elected position usually holds the most executive power. In countries that have both a president and prime minister, the prime minister is the head of government who commands legislative power, sets the political agenda, and appoints cabinet members. The president, if one exists, is largely sym- bolic and has little political power. For example, in constitutional monar- chies, such as the United Kingdom, a queen or king rather than a president is the symbolic head of state, and the prime minister is the political leader of the country. In countries such as the United States, the president is both
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