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SISP Conference 2023

SISP2023 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

Discussants: Silvia Decadri

Gender equality in political leadership in the European Parliament: a preliminary analysis
Pamela Pansardi, Andrea Cassani, Eugenio Salvati
Women’s parliamentary presence has significantly increased worldwide in the last two decades, but has not been matched yet by a comparable increase in their access to positions of power and leadership within main political institutions. While some important steps have been taken at the EU level, where three of the main institutions – European Commission, European Parliament, European Central Bank - are currently chaired by a woman, only four of the EU27 states currently have a female chief executive, and the average rate of female ministers and junior ministers in national governments remains below 30 percent. The European Parliament is a perfect example of this paradox: with a 41% of female MEPs, it scores quite high comparatively in terms of women’s representation. Yet, recent literature suggests the persistence of obstacles to women’s access in leadership positions within the EP. Overall, few studies have specifically investigated the hurdles that prevent female politicians to access higher political offices in the condition of a critical mass. To contribute filling this gap, the paper investigates the gender dimension of political careers in a multilevel context by taking into account both the institutional and individual-level factors that might hinder - or favor - female politicians’ access to positions of leadership within the EP. To study the presence of gender-based differences in the appointment to leadership positions, we rely on an original dataset, covering career paths and appointments of all MEPs (1979-2022), that allows to control the effect of gender in relation to political experience, ideology, and appointment rules on the access to apical (EP president, Committee chair) and deputy (Vice-president, Committee vice-chair) leadership positions.
How salient are gender-related issues in European party competition?
Giuseppe Carteny, Daniela Braun
Gender equality is among one of the main purposes pursued by the European Union (EU). Nonetheless, a gender gap prevails in almost every domain of European politics. An important explanation for the persistence of such a gender gap is the traditional practices within political parties. It is uncontested that in European representative democracies, political parties are among the main actors with the power to hinder or promote gender-related issues. Against this backdrop, in a first step, our paper seeks to map descriptively how much importance European political parties in the EU member states attach to gender-related issues. In a second step, we develop theoretical assumptions, under what conditions, i.e. when and why political parties put more or less emphasis on gender-related issues. Based on salience theory, we can act on the assumption that parties compete for support by putting emphasis on those issues that promote their strong points while avoiding issues that are opportune to their opponent. Accordingly, one major assumption is that parties decide strategically, whether they should highlight gender-related issues. Beyond mere strategic considerations (related to the vote-, office- and policy-seeking nature of political parties), we assume that the context where parties compete in is an additional determinant. E.g., in countries with more gender equality (such as gender quota or higher female representation), parties are more likely to highlight gender-related issues. To study these and related research questions, we draw on data from the 2019 Euromanifesto project, which for the first time includes a broader set of gender-related coding categories, namely: Gender positive (Concept of gender equality; need for fair treatment of people of all genders; end of gender discrimination vs. Gender negative (Opposite of positive) as well as LGBT positive (Principle of equal and fair treatment for LGBT people; end of LGTB discrimination vs. LGBT negative (Opposite of positive). Using this data source will enable us to get a good impression on gender-related issue salience for approximately 200 European political parties running for the election to European Parliament in 2019.
The Impact of Gendered Issue Salience on Voting Behaviour: Evidence from Six Western European Countries
Gefjon Off, Federico Trastulli
Gender differences in voting behaviour are a well-established tenet of the political science literature, with vast empirical evidence consistently pointing towards gender gaps in, e.g., contemporary radical right (more male) and centre-left support (more female) in Western Europe. Yet, such works struggle to explain why there are these gender voting gaps, meaning the mechanisms underpinning them. This is often due to the difficulties in measuring proposed drivers of voting differences between women and men, such as for instance sensitivity to social stigma, leading to the lack of any conclusive explanatory evidence. By leveraging unique individual-level comparative data provided by the Issue Competition Comparative Project (ICCP), we propose an alternative explanation for gender voting gaps: gender differences in issue preferences and individual-level issue salience. Indeed, the ICCP data allows us to distinguish both issue preferences and the priority assigned to the issue by the individual. We explore the gender dimensions of both aspects in a comparative investigation about the impact of a range of cultural issues such as LGBTQI+ and gender questions, immigration, and law and order on gendered voting patterns in six Western European countries (Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom) in 2017/18. In line with our expectations, preliminary evidence shows how the difference in voting behaviour between women and men with similar issue preferences is shaped by the gender differences in the priority they assign to such issues. To our knowledge, this is the first study providing empirical cross-country evidence concerning the impact of gender differences in individual-level issue salience across a range of cultural issues on voting behaviour, hence moving from the assessment of gender voting gaps to their explanation.
The Politics of Norm-Breaking Political Communication: The Case of Gender-Neutral Language
Tobias Widmann, Francesco Colombo
This study aims to explore how cultural issues within contemporary political systems can have such a profound impact on voters that they overshadow conflicts over economic issues, even those with significant distributive consequences. We propose that norm-breaking political rhetoric influences voters' perceptions of status threats, eliciting strong emotional reactions that can lead to the moralization of political topics and figures and shape feelings of external efficacy. Our focus lies on gender-neutral language, which can be seen as not only breaching grammatical and linguistic norms, but also challenging social hierarchies. We test our proposition by integrating an information experiment with a vignette experiment. The outcomes of these experiments will triangulate observational evidence from social media data, thereby contributing to the verification of the suggested mechanisms. The findings of this study bear significant implications, enhancing our understanding of the prominence of cultural conflict and the escalating moralization of these topics, which hold the power to foster profound divisions and conflict in Western societies.

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

Discussants: Federico Trastulli

Moral foundations in political debates on transgender laws: a comparative analysis of the US Senate and UK House of Commons
Maryana Balezina
This study aims to map the use of moral foundations in political debates surrounding transgender laws. Specifically, it explores the relative prevalence of the topic of trans rights in the US Senate and the UK House of Commons and investigates whether different political parties in these countries emphasize distinct moral foundations when deliberating new bills and legislations related to trans* health. While trans issues and rights are salient in both countries’ media coverage, previous research on morality politics suggests that the UK House of Commons and the US Senate may differ in their inclination to engage with such "hot" topics. An essential argument posited for the moral framing of this debate is the growing significance of transgender rights within party identification and differentiation, particularly within the US political landscape. Existing research on morality politics suggests that topics that elicit clear divisions tend to be subject to heightened moralization. Consequently, this predominantly exploratory research project posits two hypotheses: (a) the topic of trans rights and transgender legislation will exhibit greater salience within debates in the US Senate compared to the UK House of Commons, and (b) the moral foundations of harm and care will predominate in both the UK and the US, owing to the inherently sensitive nature of the subject matter. To achieve these research objectives, this study will employ sentiment analysis, utilizing the Moral Foundations Theory Dictionary (MFTD2), to discern the underlying moral foundations embedded within political discourse. Specifically, debates from the preceding five years (2018-2023) on trans-topics will be systematically collected based on targeted keyword searches and then analyzed using computational methods. This study contributes to the field of morality politics by examining the nuances of trans rights debates within the US and UK contexts. By investigating the prevalence of moral foundations and their variations across different political systems, this research expands our understanding of the moral dimensions underpinning political discourse on transgender legislation. The findings of this study can inform future scholarship and policy discussions regarding the dynamics of morality, politics, and transgender rights, shedding light on the similarities and differences in the moral rhetoric employed by political actors in these two countries.
The Electoral Effects of Anti-LGBTQ Policies
Konstantin Bogatyrev, Violeta Haas, Tarik Abou-Chadi, Heike Klüver, Lukas Stoetzer
Does elite-led anti-LGBTQ mobilization bolster the political fortunes of the radical-right? While a growing body of literature documents the increasing politicization of LGBTQ- and gender-related issues by conservative elites, few studies have analyzed the electoral effects of these strategies. Studies on the electoral effects of anti-LGBT measures have mostly focused on direct democracy initiatives in the US context. Whether legal acts of social exclusion activate and mobilize supporters of radical-right parties remains largely unknown. To answer this question, we study the adoption of anti-LGBTQ resolutions by Polish local governments prior to the 2019 parliamentary and 2020 presidential elections. These resolutions declared them disapproving of and free from what they described as "LGBT ideology." In press, these areas have come to be known as "LGBT-free zones". Geographically, the anti-LGBTQ resolutions were mostly enacted in the more conservative and rural regions to the southeast of the country. To estimate the effect of anti-LGBTQ resolutions in places where they were adopted on the electoral results, we rely on the recent developments in the difference-in-differences methodology. To address the issue of potential selection into treatment by the local governments adopting anti-LGBTQ resolutions, we employ two methods that allow the parallel trends assumption to be violated: synthetic difference-in-differences and matrix completion. As a baseline reference point, we provide difference-in-differences estimates of the effect of the anti-LGBTQ resolutions on the vote in the treated municipalities. We consider a municipality treated if its local council or a higher level of regional government passed an anti-LGBT resolution. To define the treated and untreated municipalities, we use the data on anti-LGBTQ resolutions from the activist database "Atlas of Hate". The electoral results were drawn from the National Electoral Commission. We estimate the effect on vote shares and turnout for both parliamentary elections and presidential elections using synthetic diff-in diff (SDiD) and matrix completion, while also reporting diff-in-diff estimates for comparison. Among these estimators, SDiD is the most conservative, and we base our interpretation on its results. In the parliamentary elections, the anti-LGBTQ resolutions have slightly benefited the governing radical right "Law and Justice" party, primarily at the expense of the Polish People's Party, its main competitor in the rural constituencies. At the same time, the vote share of The Left and the turnout in the treated municipalities also decreased. However, in the presidential elections, the opposition candidate's vote share has increased in the treated municipalities. Though the incumbent "Law and Justice" candidate did not lose extra points in treated municipalities, the main loss was suffered by the People's Party, who, unlike "Law and Justice" and "Civil Platform", did not have such a vocal position regarding the anti-LGBTQ resolutions. Moreover, to better understand the impact of these resolutions, we conduct several additional tests to account for varying treatment intensities. Specifically, we examine the effects by length of exposure, for municipalities having bills in effect on multiple government levels, as well as those that implemented both types of documents. Additionally, we assess the robustness of our findings by examining the impact of defining the treatment at distinct levels of adoption and in isolation, i.e., resolutions passed at the municipality-, county- or province-level only. Finally, we run separate analyses for each bill type to determine if results are driven by either of the two. The analysis by type shows that both ``resolutions against the LGBT ideology" and signatures under ``the Charter of Family Rights" lead to similar results. The treatment effect estimates also do not very a lot depending on the level of adoption (municipality, county or province), but loses statistical significance in the case of municipality-level resolutions due to large standard errors. In fact, only 54 out of around 2500 Polish municipalities have adopted their own anti-LGBTQ resolutions before the 2020 presidential elections (39 of them did so before the parliamentary elections). County- and province-level resolutions cover a lot more municipalities. In summary, our findings paint a multifaceted picture on how anti-LGBTQ resolutions affected electoral outcomes. For the parliamentary elections in 2019 the findings suggest that anti-LGBTQ resolutions demobilized opposition voters and benefited the governing radical right ``Law and Justice" party. This provides some support for the idea that by taking a strong stance against LGBTQ rights, radical right parties might mobilize core supporters and appeal to undecided conservative voters who hold traditional values and religious beliefs. However, in the subsequent presidential elections, anti-LGBTQ resolutions resulted in an electoral backlash. Here, the declaration of ``LGBT-free zones" mobilized support for the liberal opposition candidate of the Civic Platform. One plausible explanation for this finding is that the ``LGBT-free zones" were mainly symbolic in 2019, but became more consequential in 2020 as they triggered substantial international backlash, including the threat of economic sanctions. These reactions may have alienated more economically-oriented voters, prompting them to express their dissatisfaction with a potential loss of economic strength over a symbolic policy by voting for the more liberal candidate. Overall, this study’s findings are relevant for understanding the electoral consequences of elite-led mobilization against stigmatized or discriminated groups, as well as the politics of social exclusion more broadly.
Trajectories and Careers of LGBTIQ+ Politicians in a Traditional Context: the Italian Case Study
Massimo Prearo, Federico Trastulli
Until the 2000s, there were only few known cases of elected gay, lesbian, and transgender people, exclusively at the parliamentary level and members of left and center-left parties or coalitions. In the last local elections of 2021, however, more than twenty LGBTIQ+ candidates were elected, i.e. candidates who have made their LGBTIQ+ identity a characterizing dimension of their profile. Although often isolated cases, moreover, even LGBTIQ+ members of the parliament (at both the Italian and European levels) are no longer scandalous exceptional profiles. More generally, LGBTIQ+ elected politicians are coming out increasingly in the left and center-left as well as in the right and center-right. A liberal and green “Gay Party” has even appeared in 2020. Research interested in LGBTIQ+ politicians generally focuses on their effects on representation or their role in adopting specific public policies. Few works have studied the trajectories and political careers of such candidates and, relatedly, the factors within the party and electoral systems that either favor or hinder such careers. The paper proposes a case study analysis of LGBTIQ+ elected politicians in Italy. Research on political careers has epistemological and methodological issues related to the difficulty of combining actor and context-oriented approaches. Thus, the research objective is twofold: to analyze the contextual factors that constitute the political ecology within which LGBTIQ+ elected politicians develop their career strategically; and to study the factors that characterize individual trajectories and profiles. Contextual factors to be explored mainly refer to the selection and the organizational structures of the parties or civic lists to which LGBT politicians are affiliated; the degree of party-political integration; and the strategies and modalities of electoral campaigning at different levels (local, national and European). At the individual level, the research will analyze the influence of activist career, as well as, in general, the relationship to LGBT activism and movements; and the socio-biographical profile. Accordingly, through a mixed individual and context-oriented qualitative approach, the research aims to contribute to building a theoretical model of how LGBTIQ+ political opportunity structures promote and hinder LGBTIQ+ political careers.
Women's Organizations and Women Refugees in Turkey: Different Forms of (Dis) Engagements
Asuman Özgür Keysan, Funda Gençoglu, Ümmühan Eda Bektaş
Despite a vast amount of research conducted on the perspectives of mixed non-governmental organizations in Turkey towards women refugees and the role they play in social cohesion processes, there is still a great deal that is unknown about the forms of engagement of women's organizations with women refugees. To fill this gap, this study aims to investigate to what extent and in what ways women’s organizations in Turkey incorporate the problems and expectations of Syrian women refugees when setting their agendas. The study ultimately targets to uncover the forms of women's organizations’ encounters with Syrian women refugee identity and their reflections on the women's movement in Turkey. It draws on the empirical data based on 55 online surveys and 27 face-to-face in-depth interviews with the representatives of women’s organizations located in three metropolitan cities in Turkey, namely İstanbul, İzmir and Gaziantep. It argues that the women's organizations’ decisions to (dis)engage with Syrian refugee women are contingent upon several factors, including the meaning they attribute to ‘being a woman’, the ways in which they experience women's solidarity, their envision for equality and justice, and their attitude towards combatting gender-based hierarchies.

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

Discussants: Lorenzo Cattani

Active labour market policies and women's mobilization
Lorenzo Cattani
This paper develops two main arguments. The first is that labour market policies should not only be perceived as fixed, unchangeable, institutions but also as the result of people’s agency. In this sense, it is interesting to analyse how women’s political mobilization may have influenced the policymaking process. The second thing is that the analyses have mostly focused on studying the differences between models of capitalism, rather than within them. Post-industrialization and increased female participation in the labour market have brought new “social risks” to the fore. Capitalist economies’ social welfare systems have had to adapt, albeit in different ways (Bonoli, 2007, 2013; Thelen, 2014). “Active social policies” (Bonoli, 2013), including childcare services and active labour market policies, are the outcome of this process of adaptation. These tools are explicitly meant for labour market outsiders. That is, those who do not belong to the industrial, highly unionized working class, which historically has been the main beneficiary of welfare state expansion (Briggs, 1961). There is a wealth of literature on insider-outsider dilemmas, thanks mostly to Rueda and his colleagues (Lindvall and Rueda, 2012, 2014; Rueda, 2007). There are however several issues with this model. In the first place, this framework does not consider the different purposes active policies may serve. Employment incentives, for example, respond to a repressive logic of activation, while training and direct job creation are aligned with a more emancipatory model of activation (Vlandas, 2013). Labour market outsiders may not pressure for active interventions tout court, preferring specific interventions to others. Secondly, The model hypothesizes that conflict is the main outcome between insiders and outsiders but is not certain that outsiders oppose expansive reforms designed for insiders, such as passive labour policies, just as it is not obvious that insiders oppose expansive policies regarding active social policies (Rizza and Scarano, 2019; Vlandas, 2013). In other words, according to this approach, political action spurs uniquely from the material conditions in which insiders and outsiders live, leading to economic determinism and leaving little space for the role of political mobilizing. With reference to Gramsci’s concept of the public sphere, we should instead think of politics “as a field of activity not determined by inflexible economic laws” (Schwarzmantel, 2015, p. 160). Lastly, it pictures a dynamic of mobilization strictly aimed at obtaining material gains. In doing so, it does not consider mobilization as a potential force of change for the institutional arrangements of the political economy arena. Moreover, while investment in active social policies such as childcare has been championed by labour market outsiders, the same cannot be said for active labour market policies. Hence, we need a theoretical approach that considers how mobilization may affect policymaking even when potential recipients of specific policies do not pressure governments to invest in said policies. For this reason, we suggest studying women’s political mobilization may prove fruitful for comparative analysis within models of capitalism. Social movements are operating in a context marked by the rise of a new wave of contentious politics. Such actors are “not limited to seeking material gain, but instead challenge widespread notions of politics and of society itself” (della Porta, 2017, p. 457). The feminist movement, being one of these new social movements, can circulate ideas regarding female emancipation, that may become hegemonic and influence policymaking. This however happens in specific institutional settings, that may produce very different outcomes regarding active social policy. Adopting such an approach, this paper analyses policy reform and female political mobilization in Italy and Spain. Two cases are considered here: the Jobs Act reform of 2016 for Italy and the activation plan of 2017 in Spain. The two countries provide an interesting choice for comparative analysis since they belong to the same model of capitalism and they both witnessed the rise of strong feminist movements after the economic crisis of 2008. Through a historical reconstruction of social movements' characteristics and the positions taken by different key players, namely political parties, trade unions, and employers’ organizations, we can see that in the two countries, there was a different circulation of ideas regarding female emancipation. In Spain, such ideas gained momentum and were perceived as a more pressing issue to which policymakers should respond, while in Italy parties and associations proved to be more “impermeable” to the ideas pushed by feminist movements. This ended in a policy reform that favoured emancipatory activation in Spain, while in Italy policy reform largely overlooked activation in favour of passive labour market policies.
Breast cancer survivors: a case of multiple discrimination at work
Olga Rymkevitch
As it has been observed, studies about disability and the access to labour market are still lacking a specific gender perspective and focus, thus underestimating the combined effect, in terms of discrimination, of being both a woman and a disabled person. This presentation focuses on the specific condition of women breast cancer survivors and problems of discrimination they face from the moment of the discovery of the disease, during the treatment and return to work. The mostly wide known problems concern work related discrimination, professional downgrading and dismissal. Even if the existing legislative framework provides a number of protective instruments in this regard (like the possibility to use part-time, smart working, paid and unpaid permits and holidays) many employers continue to discriminate these women forcing them to abandon the labour market and ignoring their legal obligation to ensure necessary adaptation of the workplace. The discrimination is manifested in different ways like the illegitimate employer’s refusal to grant the women flexible working arrangements, discriminatory choice in case of career promotion, exclusion of the productivity bonuses (for example by means of linking the bonus to the presence at the workplace). Unfortunately notwithstanding the evident scientific progress clearly showing the high probability of these patients to cure definitively and be able to perform work there is still a stigma against these women who are seen as close to death, unproductive and considered to be a burden and not a resource. On he other hand also the women are often not aware of their rights and prefer to abandon labour market. In this perspective the article is aimed to analyse the existing legal tools, the provisions of collective agreements and best practices in in regard at national and international level.
Collectively bargained job classification systems as a potential root-source of indirect wage discrimination
Livia Di Stefano
For quite some time already, job classification systems, where they exist, have been identified as a fundamental parameter to assess the concept of both “same work” and “work to which equal value is attributed” in order to correctly apply the principle of “equal pay” between men and women (case 61/81, Commission v. UK). In the Communication COM/2007/0424 final, the European Commission has called for further analyses to identify the factors related to the gender pay gap, also suggesting investigating, among others, the role of institutional characteristics, namely including wage bargaining and industrial relations systems. Nevertheless, in the literature on gender pay gap, the study of the peculiar role played by “collectively bargained” job classification systems as a (potential) root-source of indirect wage discrimination has traditionally been neglected. The European Network of Legal Experts in Gender Equality and Non-Discrimination has recently detected the latter phenomenon, namely in a corporative country with a strong and developed collective bargaining system like Germany. This evidence is significant considering that, in a considerable number of countries, job classification systems that are relevant for determining wage levels are in fact and for the most in laid down in collective agreement. Tackling wage discrimination that are rooted in collective agreements may represent in turn an even more sensitive issue requiring the design of appropriate policy measures, given the need to respect the autonomy social partners enjoy in collective bargaining. On this background, the proposed paper aims to develop an analytical model conceived to assess the provisions on job classification system in collective agreements in terms of gender equality based on the empirical analysis of a sample of national-level collective agreement in the Italian institutional context. The analysis will encompass: (i) what regulatory techniques are used to lay down the job classification systems themselves (ii) what variables are used in job classification systems and how are they relatively valued in term of corresponding wage (iii) which professional profiles emerges as most and least valued in nonanalytical job classification systems, in term of corresponding wage (iv) which professional profiles are most and least valued in analytical classification systems, in term of corresponding wage. By such an analysis, the paper is intended to provide a framework for better understanding data and statistics about gender pay gap, as well as to offer guidance for better policy design in the field of both gender equality and industrial relation.
Does politics matter? Gendering labour market policies
Rosa Mule, Petra Sauer
There are few in-depth studies of the relationship between labour market policies and gender differences. This issue is often limited to studies of family policies and work-life balance. Nevertheless, labour policy trends and comparative data have historically revealed significant cross-country differences in gendered political economies. This variety concerns the (higher or lower) degree of EPL, public expenditure on labour market policies, the measures enacted, and the target groups. This paper advances new varieties of gendered labour market policies. Drawing on the Luxembourg Income Study datasets, it examines whether our models differ in mitigating or exacerbating the economic impact of the 2007-2008 global financial crisis on gender earnings inequality. In addition, this paper focuses on "within" gender earnings inequalities by identifying changes in Italy and Spain, two South European countries traditionally included in the same model but recently showing divergent policy outcomes. We argue that these divergent outcomes reflect different institutional political choices.

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

Discussants: Anna Lavizzari

Shades of presence in post-2011 Tunisia: women’s activism between “on” and “offline”
Clara della Valle, Guendalina Simoncini
The notion of presence finds itself at the centre of a multifaceted discussion about women’s and nonbinary people’s (as well as ethnic minorities’) forms of political participation and representation in the public sphere. Starting from Anne Phillips’ masterpiece The Politics of Presence this notion entered the debate shaping the comprehension of physical presence or the need for being materially represented in political institutions (1995). Presence was also at the centre of the thought of Asef Bayat when theorising “the art of presence”, highlighting the wide range of everyday practices and spaces in which the ordinary people and marginalised communities of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region assert their physical, social, and cultural, thus political, presence (2010). For both these approaches, presence is central to democratisation and social transformation. But while Phillips’s concept of presence has more public and institutional connotations, Bayat’s one insists on the participation of disadvantaged groups in the public arena outside formal institutions, in a kind of activism considered as “non-movement”. These two connotations of physical presence are pivotal in the experience of Tunisian women’s activism during the 2010-2011 revolution and the following political transition. Indeed, although the Tunisian feminist movement boasts nearly a century of history, and achieved significant gains as early as the ‘90s, trapped in the “state feminism” (Bessis, 1999) under Bourguiba and Ben Ali, women’s associations were only able to operate in the country after 2011 freely. Alongside the historical Association Tunisienne des Femmes Démocrates (ATFD) and Association des Femmes Tunisiennes pour la Recherche et le Développement (AFTURD), a number of women’s associations have sprung up both in the capital and the regions, making women’s activism panorama much more rich, fluid and variegated but also characterised by several intersecting generational, geographical, class, religious and social cleavages (Debuysere, 2015; Grami, 2018; Bonci 2021). In this context, the politics of presence as theorised by Phillips was a crucial dimension in revendicating gender parity in elected assemblies and in mixed electoral lists through online and offline campaigning and protesting. More recently, the dimension of less institutional and more “individual” forms of feminist engagement has been experienced after the recent coup of Kais Saied and the new authoritarian restoration context. Nevertheless, the participation of women’s, feminist and queer activists in the digital public sphere somehow challenged these physical conceptions of presence. Cyberactivism has accompanied women’s struggles for rights during the transitional period by mobilising, networking and campaigning for political and social change. In recent years some new feminist movements have arisen above all from an online push, especially the famous Ena Zeda (Me too) that since 2019 has played a great role in making gender-based violence visible, and the Falgatna campain (We’re fed up) inspired by the international resonance of Ni Una Menos movement. At the same time, the Internet space gave an important chance to LGTBQI and queer movements to advocate for rights. Digital activism offers the opportunity of reshaping the concept of presence in terms of symbolic presence, solidarity and empathy, and also materially while connecting online and offline forms of mobilization (Taylor 2020). In general terms, the literature addressing women’s, feminist and queer activism in Tunisia and its role in the process of democratic transition and authoritarian restoration is divided between the offline and online forms of activism. While the scholarship on the former has a long historical trajectory that dates back to the 1970s-1980s, for obvious reasons, the studies interested in the digital dimension of activism go back to the 10s of the 2000s, making it difficult to express any form of comparison. This paper aims to put these two strands of literature in relation, by following the theoretical insight of the “Onlife Manifesto” (Floridi et al. 2015), which invites to overcome the duality between online and offline social interactions, forms of expression, and the literature dedicated to digital activism and collective actions that stress the positive relationship existing between online and offline activism (Greijdanus et al. 2020; Bennett & Segerberg 2012). With the objective of overcoming this duality, the paper investigates women’s, feminist and queer presence in the delicate and controversial transitional period that Tunisia faced from 2011 to 2021. From a methodological standpoint, the paper adopts a two-fold approach. On the one hand, it builds on documentary analysis and social media content analysis applied on a mixed corpus composed of data collected from public Facebook pages, Twitter and collective blog projects. On the other hand, it grounds in empirical data collected through interviews in Tunisia and remotely, as well as in-presence and online observations conducted between 2016 and 2023. The qualitative analysis of empirical data shows that beyond physical participation, online and offline forms of activism maintain a complex, intricate and intersecting relationship.
Women activism and dynamics of politicization of gender and sexuality issues in the North Caucasus
Saida Sirazhudinova
The course towards patriarchal dictate and the fight against feminism has become one of the significant elements in the authoritarian politics of modern Russia. This phenomenon requires rethinking in political science. Why gender violence is increasing and supported by the ruling regime. There is a politicization and absolutisation of gender. Gender and feminism are becoming dangerous and banned topics in the country, for which they can even be threatened with prison. The persecution of gender activists was a preparatory stage on the road to aggression. This study examines the dynamics of the transformation of gender policy. Based on qualitative and quantitative research, it is shown how gender activists have become a threat, why are feminists afraid? Why gender-based violence and control over sexuality is allowed in the North Caucasus? People from the region (quantitative study) and women activists (qualitative study) were interviewed during research .
#MUROSINVISIBLES: an intersectional study of violence and (in)security in the everyday life of refugee women
Desirè Gaudioso
This paper, starting from a critique of the migration-security nexus, aims to investigate through an intersectional perspective the issue of violence and (in)security to which refugee women are exposed within the borders of Europe. Despite being among the subjectivities more exposed to negative effects resulting from the close interrelation between migration, violence and insecurity, research addressing the violence and security experienced by refugee women is scarce. Moreover, to date, there is absence of research combining the theme of security from a critical and human point of view with that of women’s migrations adopting an intersectional analytical perspective, therefore considering the simultaneous action of multiple identity traits, categories, structures of domination and power relations in shaping the experiences of violence and (in)security of refugee women in the context of immigration. Among the consequences of this gap in the literature is the tendency to approach the violence endured by women in the refugee experience during transit and resettlement as strictly focused on sexual violence in the form of rape, coercive and transactional sex, while on FGM, forced marriage, Intimate Partner and Domestic Violence in the context of “resettlement”. As a result, on the one side, the very conceptualisation of SGBV in the context of women’s migration processes is extremely confined, and on the other, different typologies of violence against women are a priori assigned to the different contexts and phases of migration. These outcomes are related to an “increased tendency towards addressing violence against minority women separate from majority women” (Rolandsen Agustín and Lombardo, 2019, 51) both in public understanding of the phenomenon and in policies. In the case of policy, Rolandsen Agustín and Lombardo, among others, pinpoint how violence attributed to minorities is culturalised, othering women’s experiences, building stereotypes, and reinforcing essentialist and stigmatising views on minoritarian groups, silencing at the same time violence within the so-called “majority culture”. To problematise these framings and grasp the interplay between structural and subjective factors influencing violence and insecurity in refugee women’s life, the analysis proposed in this paper is based on an intersectional approach. An intersectional perspective is particularly useful because violence against migrant and refugee women is mediated by many factors (Gerard and Pickering, 2013) and identity traits which expose women to diverse forms of violence and insecurities (Freedman, 2015). Violence and insecurities permeating the lives of migrant women are created not only by gender dynamics but also by other intersectional power relations which evolve throughout the migratory process. The two questions guiding the analysis are: • What kind of violence(s) do refugee experience due to their “intersectional subjectivity”, and how do these influence their feeling of (in)security? • What subjective and structural factors contribute to the constitution of the perception of (in)security in the country of immigration? The theoretical framework developed integrates the theoretical contributions of Feminist International Relations and Feminist Geography on violence with those of Critical Security Studies and Feminist Human Security on security, in an attempt to investigate the relationships between the two concepts and to draw connections across different forms of intersecting and intersectional violence and insecurity. While these concepts are widely used and discussed together in International Relations analysis of civil conflicts and wars, less often they have been applied to analyse migration dynamics within the borders of Europe. The paper will present the relevance of investigating the intersectional violence experienced by refugee women and their perception of (in)security, focusing on how they evolve across the different phases of the refugee journey from the moment of displacement, with a focus on their experiences and actions of resistance within the material and symbolic borders of Europe. Following a “most similar” logic, a comparative study between Italy and Spain is proposed. Despite the many similarities, there is a major difference between the two countries which is of extreme relevance for the research project: Spain’s openness to social change and support towards gender equality, women’s and LGBTQI+ rights, a diametrically opposite position compared to Italy’s conservatism on these issues. In the light of these elements, a comparison between the Italian and the Spanish case becomes relevant to understand if and how these two similar, but at the same time very different contexts in terms of gender quality policies play a role in the experiences of violence and insecurity of refugee women. Do policies supporting women’s rights have an impact on the lives of women, such as refugee women, who are potentially more vulnerable? Can social contexts more sensitive to women’s rights and to the issue of intersectional discrimination result in a safer environment for women who, due to their social location and structural oppressions, are exposed to multiple types of violence and discrimination? The paper will close with presenting a case of collective resistance to violence developed by migrant women’s organisations in Spain. The campaign #MurosInvisibles represents an instance to provide narratives of violence and insecurities from ground up and an intersectional understanding of the obstacles faced by migrant women to access resources for prevention and care against the different types of violence they experience. Equally important, it proposes actions to reform the approach and practices of the Spanish state, in order to improve the eradication of all forms of sexist violence and racism in the attempt to guarantee the rights of all women without discrimination throughout the Spanish territory.
Education and the Paradox of Perceived Discrimination
Marco Giani, Margarita Gelepithis
We identify a paradox of perceived discrimination at the country level, whereby perceptions of discrimination among subordinate groups are lower when dominant group attitudes are more discriminatory. The paradox of perceived discrimination describes patterns of discrimination on grounds as diverse as race, gender, disability, sexual orientation and religion, in geographic contexts across the globe. It cannot be explained away as the result of a broken link between reported discriminatory attitudes and real-world discrimination. We put forward an explanation for the paradox of perceived discrimination based on the asymmetric effects of education on dominant and subordinate group attitudes. Our quasi-experimental analysis of ethnoracial and gender discrimination in Europe shows that education decreases discriminatory attitudes while increasing perceived discrimination. This is reflected in longitudinal patterns at the country level: as education levels have increased over time, discriminatory attitudes have become less prevalent but perceptions of discrimination among subordinate groups have increased. Our findings suggest that education increases awareness of existing discrimination among victims more than it decreases prejudice among perpetrators, worsening rather than improving intergroup relations. Full paper is available here: Many thanks for consideration.
Feminist Mobilisation and Resistance in Poland and South Korea
Anna Gwiazda
In the context of an illiberal, ultraconservative and populist turn in democratic politics, women’s rights and gender equality have come under threat. Feminists have faced new challenges coming from anti-feminist backlash against gender equality and progressive reforms (Krizsán and Roggeband 2019; Lombardo et al. 2021). Subsequently, they have taken to the streets across the world to defend their rights (Molyneux et al. 2021). This article explores this matter further using the most different systems design and examines Poland and South Korea to understand how feminist protests emerge. Although both countries are different, they started the process of democratization in the late 1980s and have had recent cases of mass feminist mobilisation. Since 2016, mass feminist mobilisation has occurred in Poland in response to limitations of reproductive rights (Gwiazda 2019; Gwiazda 2022). Subsequently, the new feminist movement has fought for social justice, gender equality and liberal democracy. In South Korea, in response to a misogynistic hate crime at the Gangnam Station in 2016, women’s activism has increased (Barraclough 2022). Subsequently, South Korea’s #MeToo movement (Chang-Ling Huang 2021) and reproductive justice movement (Kim, Young, and Lee 2021) have resisted widespread anti-feminism and ultraconservatism. This article contributes to comparative gender and politics scholarship by focusing on feminist movements in unexplored East European and East Asian contexts, where on the one hand, populism and anti-feminist campaigns have taken hold, and, on the other, feminist and progressive ideas have challenged misogyny, traditionalism and illiberalism.

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

Discussants: Francesca Scrinzi

Il genere come dispositivo ideologico: Lega e Rassemblement National a confronto
Elisa Bellè
Con il presente contributo desidero analizzare una parte dei risultati di ricerca emersi dal progetto ERRANT (Marie Curie Individual Fellowship). ERRANT (Ethnography of Radical Right Across Nations and Territories) è una ricerca biennale incentrata su due attori principali della cosiddetta populist radical right (PRR) europea: la Lega italiana (ex Lega Nord) e il Rassemblement National (ex Front National). Il progetto è strutturato in due studi di caso comparativi, volti a osservare le dinamiche dell'ancoraggio territoriale dei partiti in un contesto peculiare, all'avanguardia della loro istituzionalizzazione, in due regioni di radicamento storico (Lombardia in Italia e PACA in Francia), e in due città di medie dimensioni dove le due forze politiche sono/erano al potere. In linea con l’epistemologia etnografica, la ricerca si basa su diverse tecniche di raccolta dati: osservazione partecipante della vita pubblica e politica delle due città (6 mesi per ciascun caso); interviste a militanti e dirigenti di partito (20 per il RN e 25 per la Lega); interviste a esponenti della società civile progressista locale (15 per ciascun caso); analisi di documenti di partito, materiali social e stampa locale. Più specificamente, lavorerò in modo comparativo sulla dimensione analitica che ho chiamato "genere come dispositivo ideologico", concentrandomi su come il genere e i temi legati alla sessualità siano diventati sempre più parte della produzione ideologica dei due partiti (presenza di questioni di genere nei programmi e nelle dichiarazioni pubbliche). Su questo tema, i due casi di studio selezionati sono particolarmente interessanti, in quanto esempi di due tendenze opposte tra i partiti della famiglia PRR. Da un lato vi è il RN che, con il suo utilizzo di parole chiave di laicità e parità di genere, rappresenta un chiaro esempio di femo-nazionalimso anti-islamico. Dall'altro lato abbiamo invece il caso della Lega che, partendo già da posizioni prevalentemente conservatrici, dopo la svolta nazionalista ha radicalizzato significativamente il proprio messaggio ideologico in chiave di genere, abbracciando molte delle parole d'ordine dell'estremismo cattolico conservatore, al fine di rafforzare la sua nuova e traballante identità nazionalista. Il paper prenderà in esame sia il livello nazionale dei due partiti, analizzando le loro posizioni su un piano macro, sia il livello locale e la prospettiva dei/delle militanti, facendo emergere continuità e rotture tra i due livelli organizzativi.
Migration, Islam, and Demographic fears – the narrative of replacement in Italian Politics
Alberta Giorgi
The academic conversation around the othering of Islam often refers to the “Muslim Question”, which is the constructions of Muslims and Islam as something problematic. The Muslim Question essentializes Islam as a homogeneous actor, fundamentally different from “the West”, and normalizes and naturalizes this difference. The normalization of difference is often politically weaponized by right-wing populist parties, which discursively ground Islam ‘otherness’ on allegedly incompatible values - particularly on the supposed conflation between religion and politics in Islamic thought, opposing European secularism, and on the allegedly discriminatory treatment of women and sexual minorities, opposing European gender equality. The ‘othering’ process combines gender, religious, and ethnic dimensions in complex identity assemblages of ‘us’ and ‘them’ - the unpacking of which would require an intersectional approach. Against this broad background, a particularly relevant illustration of this intersectional practice of othering is the politics of fear surrounding Muslim demography in Europe, that combines the concerns related to Islam and immigration, and Muslims’ birth rates, in a narrative of ‘replacement’ according to which Muslims will ‘replace’ Christians. I will explore one Italian iteration of the narrative of replacement by focusing on how it is articulated by the First report on Islamization of Europe, published in 2019 by the Foundation Farefuturo (Doing Future), a think tank connected to Fratelli d’Italia (FDI, Brothers of Italy), which at the time was a minor actor in the Italian political sphere and is currently (2022) the leading party in the Italian government.
The role of sexist attitudes and gender in the electoral success of the Italian far-right
Francesca Feo, Manuela Caiani
The interplay between gender and radical right voting has been increasingly scrutinized by scholars active in the gender and politics community, often with a focus on the discursive and policy aspects of this relationship. However, aside from studies of gender gaps in radical right voting, the gender dimension of radical right politics has remained quite marginal in the broader field of electoral studies. In particular, very little attention has been given to the role played by individual attitudes toward gender equality in explaining why people vote for radical right parties. In this paper, we aim to analyze this relationship. We hypothesize that gender conservative attitudes are crucial for understanding far-right voting, even when compared to the effect of more widely explored attitudes at play in the support for the radical right – namely authoritarianism, nativism and populism. Empirically, the paper relies on data from a cross-sectional survey fielded in occasion of the 2022 Italian National election (Italian National Election Studies, ITANES), for which I introduced a battery of questions developed to measure three dimensions of “modern sexism”: the denial of gender inequality in society and politics, aversity to state interventions in favor of gender equality, and antifeminism. The paper estimates the effects of these dimensions of attitudes vis-à-vis classical attitudes underpinning radical right voting. The Italian case is a very relevant case for studying individual drivers of support for radical right vote because of the distinct roles of sexism for the appeals of two radical right party actors: Brothers of Italy and the League. Moreover, the fact that Brothers of Italy has a female leader provides a fitting case to explore the relationship between gender attitudes and female leadership. The paper contributes to various strands of literature: while it adds an often-neglected gender lens to the study of far-right support, it also provides useful methodological instruments for measuring modern sexism. Lastly, it adds empirical evidence on the political consequences of contemporary struggles over gender equality.
The gender politics of populist parties in Southern Europe
Andrea L. P. Pirro, Anna Lavizzari
In our article, we examine the contestation of gender politics by populist parties in two countries historically marked by cultural traditionalism: Italy and Spain. We define and compare the articulation of gender issues cross-nationally and intra-ideologically to understand: a) to what extent ideologically proximate parties frame gender politics cross-nationally; and b) whether there are contextual specificities accounting for the content and salience of party-based gender contestation. Drawing on computer-assisted qualitative content analyses of programmatic documents, we assess the stances of the populist radical left (the Spanish Podemos) and right (Lega and Fratelli d’Italia in Italy; VOX in Spain), while also accounting for an ideologically ambiguous populist party (the Italian Movimento 5 Stelle). We conclude ascertaining the different salience of the populist politics of gender in Italy and Spain and evince multiple axes of programmatic proximity and distance, not only cross-nationally, but also intra-ideologically among parties akin.

Panel 12.7 Gender and sexuality in politics: expanding the field (I)

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: Elena Icardi

Discussants: Clara della Valle

Gendering the parliamentary diplomacy of the European Parliament: the role of political groups through a feminist discursive lens
Lorenzo Santini
Parliamentary diplomacy is "any declaration, action or activity of a diplomatic nature that involves at least one parliamentary actor, and which tries to impact on a particular international issue (or an internal one with international implications)” (Stavridis 2021, 235). Being a relatively recent phenomenon in global and legislative politics, parliamentary diplomacy feeds into the consolidated trend of the emergence of new non-state, non-governmental actors establishing diplomatic relations with similar or governmental entities on the global stage. Much research on parliamentary diplomacy has identified the European Parliament (EP) has the most productive site for investigation, given its thick web of diplomatic relations worldwide; scholars have linked the emergence of its parliamentary diplomacy to the phenomenon of mounting parliamentarization of external relations (Nitoiu and Sus 2017; Immenkamp and Bentzen 2019; Raube, Müftüler-Baç, and Wouters 2019). There is wide agreement that parliamentary diplomacy remains the main opportunity for Members of the Parliament (MEPs) to project their policy goals externally and build partnerships internationally, and that at times it complements and compete with "traditional", executive diplomacy (Fonck 2018). Therefore, parliamentary diplomacy is being carried out not only by individual institutional actors, that is on the basis of individual initiatives of single MEPs or structured EP delegations, but in the context of political group-wide initiatives, at the bilateral and multilateral level. Although IR research confirms that international diplomacy is a highly gendered field, overly represented by male actors and masculinities at the expense of female diplomats (Aggestam and Towns 2018), parliamentary diplomacy has never been investigated from the perspective of intersectional feminism. To date, only one in-depth seminal contribution by Jancic et al. (2021), commissioned by the EP Foreign Affairs Committee, has addressed gender mainstreaming and the promotion of gender equality through parliamentary diplomacy in the EP, comparing it with other regional and global best practices. This paper aims at filling this empirical and theoretical gap by proposing an in-depth study of the role of EP political groups in gendering parliamentary diplomacy. It aims at answering the following question: how and through which discursive mechanisms do political groups contribute to the creation and persistence of gendered norms in parliamentary diplomacy? The research theoretically draws upon feminist discursive institutionalism, claiming that political institutions are gendered through discursive and ideational practices put forth by gendered actors. Gender is treated as the main analytical category, conceptualized in an intersectional manner to take into account also intersections with other identity factors, such as race/ethnicity, class, and sexual orientation. Methodologically, the paper employs parliamentary ethnography (Miller 2021; 2022) to study the micro-politics of legislatures as ‘everyday workplaces’ shaped by gendered norms. Parliamentary ethnography allows for the study “of the formal and informal activities of parliaments (debating, legislating, scrutinizing, communicating, and leading) as well as their substance (actors, architecture, cultures, and working environments), using methods that can recover the lived details of the performance of these entities” (Miller 2022). These methods include immersion and observation, shadowing, semi-structured interviews, ‘hanging out’ and meeting, and documentary analysis. Rough empirical material is collected in fieldwork diaries and observation protocols taking into account both verbal and non-verbal interactions, and then coded and analyzed through qualitative data analysis software. This methodology is applied to the cases of the EP’s parliamentary diplomacy towards Turkey, Iran and China. These cases are selected because of the proactive diplomatic initiatives undertaken by the EP. The timeframe considered is that of the 8th legislature (reconstructed through documentary analysis and semi-structured interviews) and of the 9th term, where the ethnographic work is carried out. The contributions of the paper feed into feminist institutionalist scholarship on gender and parliaments by adding a diplomatic perspective and providing thick empirical insights through ethnography. Ultimately, this paper contributes to a deeper understanding of the EP as a composite gendered institutional entity.
It’s (not) a man’s man’s man’s world: Gendering Foreign Policy making.
Isabel Hernandez Pepe
This article aims to investigate, broadly speaking, how traditional foreign policymaking theories can be advanced and how to develop a more inclusive Foreign Policy Analysis discipline using gender lenses. The gendering of FPA is long overdue, and incorporating gender analysis into FPA frameworks can provide a richer and more nuanced picture of foreign policymaking (Smith, 2020). Moreover, while conventional FPA had the creative intuition of centring its analysis on agents and actors (Hudson and other FPA scholars often repeat that FPA is an 'agent-oriented and actor specific' discipline), the actors take into consideration have mainly been male political and military leaders who reflect the mainstream idea that the political landscape is defined by 'competing masculinities' (Achilleos-Sars, 2018). This gendering process, although also aiming at developing more theoretical concepts, will be based on an empirical analysis of the emerging 'feminist foreign policy' approach, which has been adopted firstly by Sweden in 2014 and later by other countries such as 'Canada, France, Spain, Mexico, Luxembourg, and the latest Germany. The main research question that drives the investigation is a critical FPA question: 'What drives the official adoption of a feminist foreign policy?". In other words, by closely looking at the actions and motivations of 'gendering actors', which are divided into feminist actors and 'purple washing' actors, I intend to investigate how a feminist foreign policy, which by including the f-word could potentially be very much contentious, was able to be officially adopted by few states. In order to do so, a bridging theoretical framework between Critical Foreign Policy Analysis and Feminist International Relations Theory is needed because while for the former concepts, such as the centralization of the agency over structure is adopted, for the latter, the main goal of making central analysis that is usually marginalized and neglected by the mainstream lines of inquiry is also endorsed. Two empirical cases will be analyzed, one from the so-called Global North (the German Feministische Außenpolitik) and one from the Global South (The Mexican political exterior feminist), to investigate different pathways and trajectories of this emerging phenomenon. The analysis wants to be focused on why and how, in each case, specific context-related dynamics and also specific local leaders have influenced, promoted, and played a significant role in the adoption of an FFP.
Studying Violence Against Women in the Digital Dimension: Conceptual and Methodological Challenges and Ethical Issues
Gergana Tzvetkova
The rapid digitalization of our existence, the growing popularity and use of social media platforms, and the lasting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which firmly pushed our lives even deeper in the digital dimension, led to a troubling increase of online and technology-facilitated violence against women. Different types of abuse, some with newly-coined names we are still learning, such as doxing, creepshots or flaming – can cause deep psychological distress, emotional breakdown and depression, as well as fear for the physical safety of victims and their close ones. This prompted the Council of Europe Expert Group on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO) to publish its General Recommendation No.1 on the digital dimension of violence against women in 2021. The document coins the term “digital dimension of violence against women” to “comprise both online acts of violence and those perpetrated through technology, including technology yet to be developed”. This specific Recommendation and numerous similar reports, analyses, guidelines, policies, and regulations repeatedly call for further in-depth research of the digital dimension and social impact of violence, especially with respect to more vulnerable groups. However, the relative recentness of these phenomena, the problematic lack of self-regulation on the part of tech companies and online platforms, and the difficult process of hammering out regulative policies on the part of other actors can make studying violence in the digital dimension a cumbersome process. The aim of this conference paper is to present some methodological and conceptual challenges that need to be considered and ethical risks that have to be mitigated when exploring such phenomena. Among these is the global lack of disaggregated data about this type of violence, the scarce accountability and transparency of digital companies and online platforms, the absence of comprehensive legislation and policies that define malicious acts in the digital sphere, as well as the mere fact that violence in the digital dimension is so omnipresent that it is on the verge of being normalized. Thus, the paper also aims at initiating and stimulating a further discussion about the nature of these methodological, conceptual, and ethical challenges, as well as about any potential solutions that could support both future in-depth research and evidence-based policy-making.
From women’s empowerment to women’s political empowerment. An assessment of the extant measures and trends
Valeria Resta, Andrea Cassani
Gender political empowerment is a desirable political result both in itself and instrumentally. Grater political equality between men and women not only improves democracy for the greater inclusion it implies, but also because of the better policy outcomes that comes from having more representativeness within decision making bodies. Out of it, since the early 1980s, many efforts have been put in trying to measure women political empowerment, of which political empowerment is part. Taking stock of the major measures of women’s empowerment that have seen the light from then to current days, this paper pursues a twofold objective. On the one hand, it will assess which are the most surveyed dimensions and what are those that remain off the radar instead. On the other hand, some major trends of women’s political empowerment will be traced. This research shows that while the dimensions of resources and achievements are largely covered by the extant measures of women’s empowerment, that of agency is comparatively less studied. The operationalization and therefore the scrutiny of this latter dimension, and in particular the role of social and cultural norms, lags far behind. Coming then to the global trajectory of women’s political empowerment, there seems to be an improvement but its relationship with democracy and access to resources is not linear.

Panel 12.7 Gender and sexuality in politics: expanding the field (II)

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

Discussants: Francesca Feo

From Wife to Breadwinner: The Gendered Political Consequences of Working Class Decline
Giuseppe Ciccolini, Anne-Marie Jeannet, Mathilde Van Ditmars
Until now, scholars overlooked the female experience of deindustrialization, opting instead to focus on the experiences of ‘angry’ male voters, focusing on the political implications of the disappearance of traditional male industrial occupations such as steel, or mining. Yet, the female experience of deindustrialization diverges from male experience and is more complex. In the transition from industrial to post-industrial society, working-class women have experienced two important phenomena: female emancipation and deindustrialization. In this study, we examine the changes in electoral participation in working class women as compared to their middle-class counterparts through deindustrialization. We hypothesize that the difference is due the differences in the motivations for labour market participation (material necessity vs. self-empowerment) between women of different classes. We begin by describing the gap in electoral participation between working- and middle-class women in the United Kingdom 1960-2020 using the British Election Study. We then test the possible mechanisms with longitudinal modelling using the British Household Panel Study/Understanding Society. The results reveal the intersectionality between gender and class in the experience of economic restructuring.
L’ineffettività del diritto all’aborto in Italia e il ruolo della politica a livello regionale
Elisabetta De Giorgi, Alessia Ottavia Cozzi, Gaia Matilde Ripamonti
Le relazioni annuali del Ministero della Salute (2020) e la letteratura (Grandi 2015; Fanlo Cortés 2017; Francescutto 2017; Ghigi 2018) mettono in luce una generale ineffettività del diritto all’aborto in Italia. L’obiettivo di questo paper è di esaminare e comparare lo stato di applicazione della legge 194/1978 nelle regioni italiane, a più di quaranta anni dalla sua emanazione, indagando le responsabilità politiche e amministrative rispetto all’adozione di misure incentivanti o disincentivanti l’accesso al servizio di interruzione volontaria di gravidanza. Si vuole comprendere quale sia oggi il ruolo della classe politica regionale in questo contesto. Ci proponiamo, quindi, attraverso un attento lavoro di ricerca, di esaminare e sistematizzare gli elementi di natura sia organizzativa, ossia amministrativa, sia politica, che semplificano o ostacolano il ricorso al servizio a livello regionale, comparando un campione di regioni a statuto ordinario. I casi di studio verranno, pertanto, analizzati nell’ambito sanitario e socio-sanitario, per comprendere come il servizio sia organizzato all’interno dei confini regionali, sia politico, per capire quale sia la posizione della classe politica regionale rispetto al tema in termini di “retorica” (comunicazione politica), “programmi” (manifesti elettorali) e “fatti” (atti presentati e/o adottati).
Data Discrepancies: Italian Government Reports on Abortion, Contextualized
Danielle Pullan, Payton Gannon
In Italy, abortion has been legal since 1978, but with some conditions: mandatory counseling, a 7-day waiting period, a 12-week gestational limit for voluntary abortions, a “viability” gestational limit for fetal abnormality or life of the mother, and a conscientious objection provision. Conscientious objection allows any medical professional who morally objects to abortions to refuse to perform them. Though many countries have conscientious objection clauses, the use of this clause in Italy stands out and has a strong effect on abortion access. The most recent data from the Italian Ministry of Health says that 68% of gynecologists are objectors. However, it is widely known in Italy that significantly less than 32% of gynecologists actually perform abortions. Our first goal is to understand this mismatch. Scholars rely on these Ministry reports to understand societal trends, and at a glance, Italy can appear to be an ideal case for academic study of abortion because the Ministry’s annual report is quite detailed. But within Italy in both medical and activist circles, it is an open secret that this data is simply not telling the whole story. Based on a variety of data sources including qualitative interviews with street-level bureaucrats, a close quantitative review of the historical data, and data gathered by activist groups, we bring academic rigor to the question of conscientious objection rates in Italy. We work to triangulate the breakdown in data reporting, and consequently we make recommendations for how the Ministry could present the data more clearly. We explore how the public administration implements the abortion law, and we additionally make recommendations for how the policy could be implemented in a way that enables more accurate data collection. We demonstrate based on regional case studies that the conscientious objection rate may be significantly higher than reported, which in addition to improving data integrity has societal relevance. The rates of objection reported by the Ministry are already high, but if the true rate is even higher, this has implications for abortion access in Italy. While scholars are naturally concerned about the correctness of the data for scientific purposes, citizens rely on government reports to monitor the government’s work and hold it democratically accountable. By bringing together the sources we encountered in our field work, we provide a holistic academic overview of conscientious objection to abortion in Italy.

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

Discussants: Johanna Lorraine Breuer

Fostering reform or continuity in gender regimes? Comparing approaches to care policy in Southern European NRRPs
Giulia Giraudo
My paper constitutes the preparatory work for my dissertation, which will be dedicated to assessing the elements driving the design and implementation of care policies in the Italian and Spanish national recovery and resilience plans (NRRPs), with a specific focus on their gendered aspects. An observation of the emergency and recovery measures concerning care shows a puzzling contrast between the adoption of innovative instruments during the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in Italy, and a return to the status quo in the policy design of NRRPs. My research will attempt to provide an explanation of the resistance to a long-term shift in the paradigm characterizing the Italian and Spanish approaches to care. The hypothesis, developed on the basis of a review of the existing literature, is that this contrast in the level of innovation of care policy in the two phases was brought about by a clash between the role of actors vis à vis the one structural elements of the two welfare states. While policymakers and stakeholders were able to introduce elements of innovation in the emergency phase, the policy legacy was the most relevant element shaping the policy design of NRRPs. That was largely due to the fact that the short time span allowed to draft the recovery plans led to focus on pre-existing investments that had “lingered into the closet” without being implemented due to the lack of fundings. Measures in line with the pre-pandemic care regime became thus predominant in the NRRPs. Evidence supporting these claims will be provided with reference to the literature, and indication on the empirical approach that will be adopted to test these claims will be provided. In particular, it must be noted that the cases of Italy and Spain will be approached through a most similar case design. This work will thus contribute to the debate on the reformative potential of NGEU, as well as to the literature on familiarization in Southern Europe.
The reform of the EU fiscal rules during and after crisis
Laura Nordström
The European monetary fiscal rules are instrumental in guiding the Eurozone area member states' public economies and thus also in the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. These rules were frozen for the first time at the beginning of the pandemic and now they are under reform. These actions differ significantly from the previous crisis, the Eurozone crisis when the rules were strengthened. I present a research project on this reform process by focusing on its inclusiveness, expertise base and guiding principles. How democratic and open is the process and does the reform democratise the EMU policies or provide more leeway for national economic policies? Additionally, the research analyses whether the freezing of the rules and the ongoing reform represent a paradigm change in the EU economic policies. The process tracing research is based on interviews with key Commission officials, EU member state politicians and advisors, MEPs and their assistants in the process and official documents from the Commission and the European parliament.
Where Did the MFF and NGEU Funds Go Gender-Equally Wrong? Assessing the Shortcomings of Producing Gendered Budgets in the EU for the Spending Period 2021-27
Johanna Lorraine Breuer
In December 2020, the European Union (EU) agreed on a Multi-Financial Framework (MFF) for the spending period 2021-2027, as well as the Next Generation EU (NGEU) Funds to address the repercussions on European economies and citizens of the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic has had an unequal effect on different groups of society, exacerbating social inequalities depending on gender, age, race, ethnicity, and (dis)ability (Cavaghan & Elomäki, 2021, p. 71; Eurostat, 2020; Partington, 2020). The EU tried to address the gendered impact of this crisis through the NGEU Funds, in particular building upon the European Commission’s new European Gender Strategy, to gender mainstream its financial expenditure. The political priorities are built upon the EU’s legal framework to support gender equality (Article 2 and Article 8, TFEU), and the legal obligation to gender mainstream its policies and programmes (see also the Commission Provisions Regulations). However, the MFF 2021-2027 does not establish a plan for gender equal spending. Prior to 2020, publications stressed the lack of gender equal spending in the EU (Cengiz et al., 2019, p. 27; O’Hagan & Klatzer, 2018, p. 364). More recent literature shows that this continues to be the case (European Court of Auditors, 2021, p. 43; Klatzer & Rinaldi, 2020). But why can the EU not make more progress on producing gendered financial frameworks and gendered budgets despite its (public) commitment and legal obligation? This paper attempts to reconstruct the way in which gender equality impacted the MFF negotiations with publicly available policy documents, inter-institutional communication, and semi-structured interviews from negotiation participants. The preliminary findings show that throughout the negotiations, policymakers do attempt to gender the MFF and address gender equality. But they do not have a shared understanding of how this can be put into practice. Expressed differently, the concept has so far not been ´filled in` with a clear strategy on how it can be implemented. This starts with a lack of agreement about what gender equality is and ends with the inability to gender a financial instrument. Due to an over-reliance on quantitative measures, policymakers would need to set up qualitative assessments to negotiate and eventually implement gendered budgets. Moreover, the creation of a gendered budget is not understood as a cross-cutting issue across spending categories within the MFF and NGEU. Gender intersects deeply with the EU’s priorities to address climate change, the rule of law conditionalities and the long-term effect of the economic development. But the low recognition of the mutual relations between these issues limits reciprocal progress to address gender equality across spending categories. Finally, the findings imply that if the EU continues not to produce a (more) gendered budget, this poses legitimacy problems regarding EU expenditure and its commitment to gender equality. This confronts us with questions for whom EU expenditure is intended and for whom it is not (and this question runs along the intersecting axis of inequalities concerning race, class, age, ethnicity, and body ability), especially when financial resources are limited, which is the case in the EU budget. Moreover, the weak efforts of gendering the MFF and NGEU result in an economic loss too, which is at odds with the EU’s aim to maximise economic benefits through its spending priorities. References Cavaghan, R., & Elomäki, A. (2021). Feminist Political Economy and its Explanatory Promise. In G. Abels, A. Krizsán, H. MacRae, & A. van der Vleuten (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Gender and EU Politics (pp. 68–79). Routledge. Cengiz, F., Schratzenstaller, M., Franceschelli, N., & Sanz González, M. (2019). Gender Responsive EU Budgeting (p. 50) [PE 621.801]. DG Internal Policies. European Court of Auditors. (2021). Gender Mainstreaming in the EU budget: Time to turn words into action (Special Report No. 10). European Court of Auditors. Eurostat. (2020). Harmonised unemployment rate by sex—EU (27 countries—From 2020). Klatzer, E., & Rinaldi, A. (2020). ‘#nextGenerationEU’ Leaves Women Behind—Gender Impact Assessment of the European Commission Proposals for the EU Recovery Plan. O’Hagan, A., & Klatzer, E. (Eds.). (2018). Gender Budgeting in Europe. Springer International Publishing. Partington, R. (2020, July 24). Economic fallout from pandemic will hit women hardest. The Guardian.
Women’s substantive representation and gender mainstreaming in the EU pandemic recovery
Matilde Ceron
The Covid-19 pandemic evidences how policy responses moderate crises’ gendered impact. The paper investigates the determinants of gender-sensitive policies in the case of EU recovery plans. Next Generation EU entails common funding and priorities, including gender mainstreaming. Yet, the plans are designed at the national level. The study exploits this governance framework for comparative cross-country analysis. A mixed-method approach leverages quantitative text analysis — revealing heterogeneous saliency of gender equality — for the selection of critical case studies. Italy and Spain are Southern countries among the largest recipients with persistent economic gender gaps differing in progress in women’s political empowerment. The research design complements secondary data and social network analysis with elite interviews. The paper identifies drivers of heterogeneous success in gender mainstreaming across the multilevel governance of the Recovery and Resilience Facility. The analysis contributes to understanding the politics and policies of gender mainstreaming in the pandemic recovery in the EU. More broadly, it contributes to the gendered assessment of the distributive implications of EU crisis responses and the role of substantive representation.

Round table

Panel 12.9 Genere, leadership e cambiamento istituzionale in Italia (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?

Donatella Campus - Università di Bergamo
Rita Falaschi - Rete di donne per la politica
Costanza Hermanin - European University Institute
Bruno Marino - Università 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

Discussants: Clint Claessen

A Career Catalyst: Youth Wings and Party Leaders’ Gendered Political Survival
Clint Claessen
Political experience can be an important factor in a party leader's survival in office. Previous studies on party leaders have focused on how they are selected and what factors contribute to their survival, but have not adequately explored the role of youth wing experience. This study aims to fill this gap by examining the relationship between previous positions in political youth wing organizations and party leader survival in four parliamentary systems over the postwar period from 1945 to 2021. The study uses a survival analysis and several measures of youth wing experience to assess the impact of this specific type of political experience on party leader duration. The analyses show that experience in the party's youth wing significantly contributes to party leader survival in office. The results suggest that party leaders with this specific type of experience reach higher party positions faster and almost twice as often than those without such experience. In addition, there is a gender imbalance in youth wing experience, which provides a potential explanation for previously found gendered leadership patterns.
Assessing obstacles and inequalities in women's political leadership in Italy. A subnational perspective
Eugenio Salvati, Francesco Baraldi , Pamela Pansardi
The paper aims to investigate the gendered dimension of political careers in the Italian case by focusing on the sub-national level. By introducing a feminist institutionalist perspective in the study of political careers, we will address the gendered mechanisms of élite selection processes, which involves crucial questions that strictly pertain to the issue of change and continuity of political elites at the regional level. In particular, the increasing presence of female candidates in political arenas is an intrinsic challenge to the preservation of existing elites’ configurations, which may respond by reinforcing systemic obstacles to elite turnover. Thanks to an original dataset, we will systematically study the career of female politicians with regard to socio-demographic backgrounds and political expertise; party affiliation; type and number of positions held. Specifically, the paper will investigate the access (and circulation) to the position of regional ministers of female politicians. The analysis will cover all the Italian regions in the period 1995 – 2018. By investigating the effect of the different sets of factors on the chances to gain access to leadership positions of male and female politicians, we will ascertain the presence of gendered obstacles to political careers and to observe the existence of different patterns of career related to gender in a peculiar political-institutional setting like the regional one.
Exploring the gender dimension of political careers at the local level
Marta Ponzo
Despite the introduction of measures in support of gender equality, such as quotas, the number of women in representative institutions is still far from parity. In Italy, the low descriptive representation of women elected, which depends on political-institutional and on cultural and socioeconomic factors (Regalia 2021), characterizes all levels of government. However, the number of women elected in Italy, especially in recent years, has been highly concentrated in local rather than central institutions, although there is a tendency towards territorial differentiation (Carbone and Farina 2020). Even if an increasing number of elected women does not automatically affect policies, female politicians can contribute to strengthening the position of women’s interests (Wängnerud 2009). Studying not only the number of women who are making decisions in municipalities but also their history, their skills, vocation, and performance as indicators of their political quality can contribute to identify the real problems in political careers towards gender equity in representative institutions (Reyes 2020). Women are less likely than men to run for political office and, as a result, are less likely to have accumulated more legislative experience (Brown et al. 2020). The existing disparities in the probability of moving up the political “career ladder” between two candidates who only differ by gender can be explained by the existence of a “glass ceiling” that can affect women’s representation and their career trajectories (Folke and Rickne 2016). This phenomenon takes on greater importance in light of the developments in the territorial organization of European democracies and on the process of professionalization of the sub-national and supranational political class which had a significative impact on creating new career opportunities (Borchert and Stolz 2011; Tronconi 2018; Verzichelli 2018). By relying on an original dataset of 1500 Italian municipalities of different sizes and geographical areas, this paper aims to investigate the existence of gender differences in the profiles and careers of local politicians currently in charge analyzing their socio-biographical attributes, and their political background. Furthermore, a second purpose is to detect the existence of gender differences and their territorial differentiation in the career ambitions of elected women using survey data. Starting from the Italian case, this paper aims at providing some first hints for comparative studies.
More Equal than Different? Gender and Legislative Turnover in Western Europe (1945-2022)
Paolo Marzi, Athanassios Gouglas, Bart Maddens, Marleen Brans, Luca Verzichelli
The article investigates whether the odds of exiting parliament are higher among women legislators in comparison to their men colleagues, and analyses the political and institutional causes behind incumbent exit rates after 146 general elections in seven West European lower and unicameral chambers and the European parliament in the period 1945 - 2022. The analysis shows that women and men incumbents are more equal than different with respect to legislative turnover rates. This equality in outputs calls into question the extent to which certain gender related biases, which are applicable to non-incumbents, are relevant for incumbents. However, the analysis of the political and institutional factors affecting incumbent exit rates shows a more nuanced picture. Although many of the tested explanations are gender neutral, the article points to some significant gender gaps. The rate of exit for women incumbents is higher within strong personal vote systems and electoral systems with high district magnitude. In such systems women incumbents may have to work harder to retain their seat. Despite existing gender gaps, though, the article shows that if women can be elected, they are as resilient as men.