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SISP Conference 2023

Sections and Panels

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Section 12 - Gender and Politics (Jolly)

Managers: Francesca Feo (, Massimo Prearo (

Read Section abstract
In the last twenty years, the strand of political science that focuses on gender issues –internationally termed gender and politics – fully integrated within the discipline and started acquiring its own traits. Accordingly, the gender perspective in political science distinguished itself from the perspectives assumed by adjacent disciplines, such as sociology, political philosophy and economics, although always in dialogue with them.
Studies focusing on the analysis of the relation between gender, sexuality and politics, also in an intersectional perspective, permeate all political science sub-fields, from political theory to comparative politics, from international relations to political communication, yet moving from different epistemological perspectives and by relying on qualitative or quantitative methods.

In this context, the promotion of gender studies within Italian political science becomes essential, on the one hand, to fill a longstanding gap in Italian political science scholarship; on the other, to promote exchanges and relations between Italian and international scholars active in this field of research, and to provide a point of reference for young scholars who choose to enter the field.

Aiming to develop the results achieved at the SISP Conference in 2022, we propose the “gender and politics” section for the 2023 conference. The Section invites panels and paper proposals addressing gender, LGBT+ and intersectionality issues from the perspective of political science – while enriching and renewing its scope. The possible topics include, but are not limited to:

? Theoretical and methodological issues in measuring and conceptualizing gender in political science
? Political representation and intersectionality
? Parties, parliaments and governments
? Gender policies and LGBTIQ+ policies
? Intersectional approaches to public policies
? Care politics
? Gender and workplace policies
? Gender, communication and public discourses (online and offline)
? Social movements, activism and dynamics of politicization of gender and sexuality issues
? Gender violence online and offline
? Feminism and democracy
? Gender and academia
? Gender and international relations
? Gender and security studies

Moreover, the Section promotes interactions and collaborations with scholars belonging to disciplines close to political science (political and legal philosophy, political sociology, economics, law, etc.), pursuing the logic of an interdisciplinary approach to the topic of interests and contamination across disciplines.

Panel 12.1 Gender and party politics

Political parties are generally considered as the real gatekeepers for the representation of women and minority groups. Through political recruitment, parties act as filters that deliberately hinder or promote women’s and minorities’ chances to access to political offices, get elected or gain leadership positions. On the one hand, the literature agrees in describing political parties as gendered institutions, where formal and informal mechanisms and practices work to reproduce the current distribution of power, often to the disadvantage of female and LGBTIQA+ politicians. On the other, these issues do not seem to significantly influence female and LGBTIQA+ voters’ electoral choice.
The panel aims at gathering scholars interested in the study of gender, political parties and public opinion both from an empirical, methodological or theoretical perspective. It welcomes both comparative studies and single cases studies, working from quantitative or qualitative perspectives.
We invite papers addressing - but not limited to - the following questions:
1. Which strategies do parties enact to hinder (or promote) gender equality?
2. Does party ideology matter in promoting gender balance in politics?
3. Is intra-party democracy conducive to gender equality?
4. Do populist parties present specific attitudes towards gender equality?
5. Is there a gender-gap in electoral participation and voting behaviour?
6. Do a party’s gender equality or attention to gender issues influence electoral behavior?

Chairs: Pamela Pansardi


Panel 12.2 Empirical Perspectives on LGBTIQ+ Politics and Policies in Mediatised Societies

Issues concerning gender and sexual minorities have become increasingly prominent not only in political science, but also and most importantly in contemporary public debates and real-world politics. Indeed, a rising number of works from the discipline demonstrate the relevance of such questions for political contestation, socialisation, and mobilisation, as well as for the policy-making process, which are all especially impactful vis-à-vis the rights and material conditions of such population groups, and feed back into institutional and political processes themselves.

To name just but one salient example across Western democracies, this is all too evident in contemporary Italy, with Giorgia Meloni as current Prime Minister and two women currently leading the largest governing and opposition parties, openly and strategically promoting opposite visions on morality, traditional societal roles, family, and the rights of sexual minorities. In turn, as this politicisation of LGBTIQ+ issues occurs in ‘mediatised’ societies, this increase in salience is further fed by and through traditional media and social media, hence impacting public discourse. Resorting to Easton’s traditional “polity” metaphor and situating it within the contemporary reality of media-led public discourse in the Western world, this panel welcomes all submissions analysing LGBTIQ+ issues and more broadly issues concerning gender and sexual minorities from an empirical political science perspective.

In particular, we hence welcome contributions from all related areas, included but not limited to:

· Politics: party competition and public opinion on LGBTIQ+ issues; patterns of voting behaviour and political participation of gender and sexual minorities examined either cross-sectionally and/or longitudinally;

· Policies: analyses on institutional debates, agenda-setting and policy-making processes, policy formulation, impact, and evaluation related to equality and LGBTIQ+ policies;

· Media and discourses: the mediatisation of LGBTIQ+ issues by politicians, policy-makers, and stakeholders, as well as analyses on the role of traditional media themselves and social media ‘influencer’ figures on the public debates and discourse surrounding such topics and their impact on political processes.

Chairs: Massimo Prearo, Federico Trastulli


Panel 12.3 The political economy of gendered labour market policies

In western countries women have been hastily entering the labour market since the 1980s, reigniting the debate over the political mechanisms of female labour market outcomes. Critics point to the lack of systematic analyses of the different roles of women and men hold within labour markets. They highlight several fundamental weaknesses of mainstream approaches. The first is the paucity of studies exploring the degree to which women are excluded from the labour market as a result of the division of unpaid work within the household. Second, studies about disability and the access to labour market are still gender blind, underestimating the combined discriminatory effect of being both a woman and a disabled person. Third, although collective bargaining is a regulatory tool in labour market policies to reduce gender discrimination, studies on its effects are still largely missing. These shortcomings prevent us from understanding the strong discrimination women face in the acquisition of social rights, since in most countries eligibility for benefits and services is conditioned by an individual’s position in the labour market. The dearth of research on gendered labour market policies as a separate field of study tasked with investigating the effects these policies have on gender inequalities is somewhat surprising. The reason for such surprise is that at its core, the discourse on access to paid work involves concepts such as citizenship, the ability to independently form a family, and women’s reduced dependence on male breadwinners.
The panel aims to stimulate discussions on the effects of labour market policies on women's employment in a variety of European political economies. Contributions can address, but are not limited to, the following core questions: 1) Do labour market policies play a role in reducing women’s options for leaving paid work? 2) Is it possible to lessen the attractiveness of not working compared to working for (some) women?
The panel invites both theoretical and empirical papers, as well as comparative or case studies.

Chairs: Rosa Mule


Panel 12.4 Gender equality, democracy and (de-)democratization

While already central in the theoretical reflection of political theorists (Pateman 1988; Young 1990; Phillips 1995; Mansbridge 1998), during the past two decades, the nexus between gender political equality and democracy has progressively gained empirical scholars’ attention. Causality between these two factors has been analyzed in both directions. On the one hand, several studies have found that achieving higher levels of gender equality has positive effects on the probability that a country experiences a democratic transition (Wang et al. 2017), on the quality of democratic governance (Cowper-Coles 2020) – e.g. more responsiveness and less corruption – and on democratic policy-making. For instance, larger numbers of women taking part in policy-making processes result in increased varieties of ideas, expertise, and preferences, leading to higher levels of redistribution (Cowper-Coles 2020), better healthcare (Mechkova and Carlitz 2021), and economic growth (Dahlum et al 2020). Women’s political participation is also positively associated with civil peace. On the other hand, the consequences of democracy and democratization on the achievement of gender equality – e.g. on the adoption of gender quotas (Zettemberg et al. 2022) – have been examined, even though empirical evidence highlights a weaker relationship. For instance, scholars found no contradiction between authoritarianism and gender equality: while democratization has increased gender equality in countries previously ruled by conservative dictatorships (e.g. Franco’s Spain), the opposite holds true in several post-socialist states (e.g. in Eastern Europe) (Beer 2009). Even contemporary autocracies may find it useful to promote gender equality in national assemblies as a way to elicit international legitimation and to co-opt women as a social group (Donno and Kreft 2018). However, recent trends towards autocratization have shown progressive limitations of women’s and LGBTQIA+ rights. Broadly the question that arises, thus, is: what, if any, is the nexus between gender equality and democracy?
The panel, organized in collaboration with the Standing group on “Political regimes”, aims at addressing this question by gathering scholars interested in the study of gender, democracy, democratization and autocratization both from a theoretical and an empirical perspective. It welcomes both philosophical accounts as well as comparative or single cases studies, working from quantitative or qualitative perspectives.
We invite papers addressing - but not limited to - the following questions:
1- What is the role of women’s movements on democratization processes?
2- Does women’s political participation increase the quality of democracy – e.g. in terms of transparency, corruption, responsiveness?
3- What is the nexus between autocratization and the limitation of women and LGBTQIA+ people’s rights?
4- How can we measure gender political equality across different regime types?
5- Are gender and minority quotas compatible with the democratic ideal of equality? Should they be promoted in politics?

Chairs: Elena Icardi, Valeria Resta


Panel 12.5 Democracy, gender equality and social movements

The panel aims to address democracy and democratic regimes through the lens of gender and social movements. Gender and sexuality are fields of contention where political parties, social movements and civil society advance multiple frames, codes and ideas for social change or conservatism. In the past decade, anti-gender, religious conservative, pro-life groups brought a challenge to progressive politics on gender and sexuality while managing to enter public institutions and gain powerful positions, often in alliance with far-right political parties. Meanwhile, feminist and LGBTQ+ movements kept organising to promote gender equality, extend the boundaries of citizenship and democracy, promoting inclusionary and participatory policies. Through these dynamics, the setting of liberal democracies is constantly changing form, as well as the social structures that democracy preserves or re-shapes. Despite the growing attention to the relation between democracy, gender and social movements, a systematic understanding of the processes that occurred in the last ten years is still missing. In order to disentangle the dynamics that cut across democratic regimes, in interaction with social movements in the field of gender and sexuality, the panel calls for papers that include, but are not limited to: 1) feminist and/or LGBTQ+ movements, their role in democratisation processes, their discourses, strategies and visions to promote substantive equality, innovate democratic practices, but also resist and respond to anti-gender, anti-feminist actors and policies; 2) anti-gender, anti-feminist, conservative groups and movements, far-right parties and their challenge to progressive politics and democracy, their impact on public debate, political and policy agendas, their relation with institutional actors in the political and policy fields.

Chairs: Giada Bonu Rosenkranz, Anna Lavizzari


Panel 12.6 Gender and Sexuality issues in the Populist Radical Right Ideology

Across Europe, populist radical right parties (PRRP) are gaining momentum and their ideologies spreading. While a consolidated literature exists on radical right politics, research on gender, sexuality and PRRP remains underdeveloped despite the relevance of gender and sexuality in the ideology of these radical actors, largely mobilizing around issues such as homophobia, abortion, the traditional family and gender roles.Typically, PRRP rhetoric defines the traditional native/white heterosexual family - composed by a man and a woman with children- as the basic unit of the society and core element of the national community. When in power PRRP adopt exclusionary policies aimed at marginalizing the sexual minorities and opposing gender+ equality and diversity measures.
Many recent studies in the field point to the growing – and paradoxical - mobilization of gender/sexuality issues by PRRP across different contexts: while championing the heterosexual family, these have embraced the principle of gender equality – and in some cases, of gay rights - in an instrumental manner, to target the racialized Others – in particular, the Muslim migrants. Other scholarly contributions more specifically engage with identifying cross-national continuities in the ideological outset of PRRP: they claim that, in many cases, gender conservatism is no longer a defining trait of PRRP ideology, but is instrumental to other aspects of its distinctively antagonistic ideology and agenda, such as nativism or populism. Others point instead to the significant cross-national variation of PRRP gendered ideologies and attempt to explain this based on context-specific specificities as well as on party cultures and histories. Much of this research is thus questioning whether gender conservatism is a defining ideological trait of the PRR party family.
The panel aims at further exploring the complex gendered articulations of nativism, populism and authoritarianism in PRRP ideology thus contributing to broader debates on defining the PRR party family. We welcome papers from different disciplines and research methods, based on single case and comparative studies. Hence, a list of possible (not exhaustive) issues the panel aims to explore includes the following:
- gender, populism and ethno-nationalism
- radical right, feminism and anti-feminist politics
- radical right ideologies, gender and religion
- populism and the defence of the heteronormative family
- radical right ideology and the process of Othering
- radical right and anti-gender mobilizations
- radical right, the politics of fear and moral panic
- radical right and the anti-academic/anti-scientific gendered discourse

Chairs: Alessia Donà, Francesca Scrinzi


Panel 12.7 Gender and sexuality in politics: expanding the field

The Open Panel invites papers on topics that do not readily fit into the other accepted panels. Thus, the Open Panel covers the full range of topics in the field of politics and gender, intersectionality and sexuality, and encourages paper submissions.
The panel is designed to showcase innovative theoretical contributions and empirical works, and it also welcomes contributions mainly advancing methodological questions.
The Standing Group on gender and politics will make sure to group thematically coherent papers together, and to assign panel discussants with expertise in the field of the selected papers.

Chairs: Francesca Feo


Panel 12.8 The European Union’s fiscal and economic architecture and socio-economic governance from a gender+ perspective post Covid-19

Economic governance has long been a blind spot for gender+ equality and gender mainstreaming in the EU, with an especially problematic track record in the management of economic crises and their gendered implications. The question of gendering fiscal policies and crisis responses is especially crucial in the Covid-19 crisis, as its burden has disproportionally fallen on women multi-dimensionally.
In parallel, pandemic containment measures and recovery policies are heterogeneously gender-sensitive across the EU Member States. The EU response to the Covid-19 pandemic represents an interesting case as it can be considered to substantially deviates from past crisis management both in terms of its unprecedented scale of commonly financed investment and the innovative governance of Next Generation EU, which includes a mandate for gender mainstreaming. From such a perspective, the pandemic crisis challenges progress towards gender equality while at the same time offering extensive opportunities for advocacy, investments and reforms toward gender mainstreaming in the recovery.
Yet it remains open whether the governance in fostering gender-sensitive pandemic recoveries is successful. The long-term implications for the EU’s fiscal framework regarding gender+ equality are also unclear because much depends on how new governance instruments will be implemented and potentially revised. The panel aims to address the question of gendering economic governance in the post-Covid EU from a multi-level and intersectional perspective. We welcome any analysis of fiscal policies and fiscal frameworks in the EU from a gender+ equal perspective.
The scope of the panel includes all phases of the policy cycle in the aftermath of Covid-19, such as:
• Understanding how policy debates were and continue to be gendered during the pandemic, the negotiations of recovery agendas and ongoing revisions of the EU’s fiscal framework;
• Assessing success and failure in gender mainstreaming response and recovery policy processes, output and outcomes;
• Highlighting the direct outcomes of gender equality policies and indirect gendered implications of response and recovery policies;
• Testing the breadth and depth in which gender inequality is understood intersectional within the EU’s new fiscal framework, to address all marginalised groups;
• Understanding the extent to which policy instruments can address socioeconomic disparities through the redistribution and allocation of the EU’s fiscal capacity;
• To foster debate about research methodologies on the raised topics, as well as specialised methodologies regarding gender mainstreaming.

Themes of interest span factors that facilitate or hinder the promotion of gender equality structurally or within the policy-making process; key actors within EU/national/regional policy networks in gendering response and recovery policies and their strategies. We particularly look forward to contributions addressing how recent changes in the EU’s fiscal framework affected intersectional inequalities. The panel welcomes single case and comparative analyses as well as both qualitative and quantitative works.

Chairs: Johanna Lorraine Breuer, Matilde Ceron


Round table

Panel 12.9 Gender, leadership and institutional change (Roundtable co-organized by the SG on Gender and Politics, SG on Candidate and Leader Selection, and SG on Government, Parliament and Representation)

Roundtable co-organized by the SG on Gender and Politics, SG on Candidate and Leader Selection, and SG on Government, Parliament and Representation

The Italian national elections of September 2022 saw Giorgia Meloni, leader of the radical right party Brothers of Italy, become the first woman at the head of government. More recently, the leadership selection process of the Democratic Party - the largest opposition party in the newly elected parliament - also ended with the election of a female leader, Elly Schlein, who won the leadership after an open primary contest against a (male) insider candidate. It seems that Italy is belatedly catching up with a global trend of “feminisation” of political leadership.

While women are still underrepresented in top political positions worldwide, women’s access to leadership positions has increased steeply in recent decades, as part of a trend that sees an increased descriptive representation of women in political office writ-large. However, gendered forms of discrimination and bias, toxic masculinity, as well as double standards in expectations of leadership persist also in political institutions. In the pursuit of leadership positions, women often face challenges that men do not encounter. Moreover, gendered roles and expectations can also impact on women’s exercise of leadership.

The recent changes in the Italian political landscape provide us with the occasion to discuss a diverse range of issues at the intersection of gender, leadership and representation studies.
For example: what kind of structural hurdles women are still facing in ascending to leadership positions in Italy? Is women’s leadership inherently different from that of men - or can it be? What are the consequences, if any, of women’s leadership on institutional and political processes? How, if at all, does women’s leadership impact processes of agenda setting and policy-making? And how does the feminisation of leadership affect the gendered dimension of political participation and representation? Do gendered changes in political leadership lead to more structural institutional changes?

Speakers: Donatella Campus (Università di Bergamo), Rita Falaschi (Rete di donne per la politica), Costanza Hermanin (European University Institute), Bruno Marino (Luiss Guido Carli), Pamela Pansardi (Università di Pavia)

Chairs: Elisabetta De Giorgi, Selena Grimaldi, Massimo Prearo


Panel 12.10 “Gender and political careers. Gendering perspectives on access and endurance in politics”

While women remain generally underrepresented in politics worldwide, the number of women in political office, and in parliaments, has steadily increased in recent years because of several factors, including structural, institutional, and societal changes.
Taking this trend as a starting point, this panel focuses on political careers from a gender perspective. It invites contributions addressing the gendered aspects in the recruitment, endurance, and termination of careers of political elites in Europe and beyond. Moreover, the panel aims to stimulate a discussion on the “effects” of political careers on intra-party dynamics, parliamentary dynamics and representation linkages.
Selected papers for the panel would ideally address, but are not bounded to, the following topics:
1) (Intersectional analysis of) the resistances and hurdles encountered by women+ in pursuing a political career, including experiences of political violence;
2)The factors – from individual characteristics and resources to structural conditions – affecting politicians’ possibilities to remain in politics for an extended period, and their access to position of power;
3)The gender differences in how politicians perceive their profession and their role in politics and parliament, and how these vary over time;
4) The gendered effects of political trajectories on different dimensions of political representation;
5) The gendered effects of political trajectories on MPs’ parliamentary behavior and their role perception.

The panel promotes a balance between different theoretical and methodological perspectives and welcomes submissions that explore these topics in different geographical areas and at distinct levels of governance.

Chairs: Francesca Feo