The global spread of electoral gender quotas has been characterized as one of the most significant institutional developments of the last 30 years. Many of the countries that have adopted these laws designed to increase women's political representation are electoral autocracies that have otherwise‐stark gender inequalities. Some scholars argue that electoral authoritarian states have adopted quotas as a strategy for improving their international reputations for democracy. This article represents the first exploration of whether quotas really generate reputational boosts. Using large‐scale survey experiments in Sweden and the United States concerning hypothetical developing countries, we find that they do. In particular, audiences perceived electoral autocracies as more democratic and were more likely to support giving them foreign aid when women's descriptive representation was greater. Beyond its contribution to our understanding of gender quotas and women's representation, this article contributes to broader debates about international reputation, human rights, and foreign aid attitudes.
American Journal of Political Science – Wiley
Published: Apr 1, 2021
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