Following the adoption of the Senegalese Law on Parity and the subsequent influx of women to the National Assembly, we saw a strong gendered polarisation of attitudes towards women as political leaders among the Senegalese population. This study explores whether similar attitudinal changes are found among political elites in the Senegalese National Assembly.
Theory suggests that an increase in the number of women elected to legislatures (‘descriptive representation’) will challenge people's perceptions of politics as a male domain and strengthen belief in women's ability to govern (‘symbolic representation’). Although the effects of gender quotas on women's representation has received considerable scholarly attention, the field of symbolic representation remains under-studied. A case study of the effects of the Senegalese parity law addresses this knowledge gap, contributing with new empirical insights. This study also develops indicators that can help measure potential developments in the symbolic representation of women. Parity appears to have contributed to slightly more acceptance towards women as political leaders within the National Assembly. The findings are discussed in the last section.
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