Olle Folke on Gender Quotas, Competence, and Careers

Interview 2017.05.23

On competence, we find that the quota raised the competence of the political class in general, and among men in particular. Moreover, the quota was indeed bad news for mediocre male leaders who left politics at a faster rate in localities with a larger quota effect. The mechanism behind this result, we argue, is that the quota upset an existing non-meritocratic appointment pattern with mediocre male leaders showing preference for mediocre male followers.

As for careers, we find that the quota raised the likelihood for female leadership in local Social Democratic parties. This means that the fast-track to women’s representation did not undermine women’s long-term careers and influence in these organizations. Rather, the quota accelerated women’s access to political influence by raising not only their number but also their access to positions of political leadership.