The Glass Ceiling in Politics: Formalization and Empirical Tests

Reprint No. 2016:52

Author(s): Olle Folke and Johanna RickneYear: 2016 Title: Comparative Political Studies Volume (No.): 49 (5) Pages: 567–599
Online article (restrictions may apply)
Preliminary version

There is a scarcity of women at the apex of political power, as well as a lack of methods to disentangle the potential sources of this under-representation. This article suggests a four-step method to test for whether women’s under-representation can be explained by the existence of a “glass ceiling.” We emphasize that this concept implies discrimination in promotions within the political organization, that the discriminatory promotions increase in severity at the top levels of power, and that they increase in severity during an individual’s career trajectory. The proposed method is applied to subnational politics in Sweden, a long-standing world leader in women’s descriptive representation. The results support the conjecture that a glass ceiling is hindering elected women’s rise to political power in this context.

Folke, Olle and Johanna Rickne (2016), "The Glass Ceiling in Politics: Formalization and Empirical Tests". Comparative Political Studies 49(5), 567–599.

Johanna Rickne


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Interdisciplinary European Studies

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