The Female Political Career: Women MPs Still Face Obstacles to Elected Office

January 27, 2015


The Female Political Career 2015


  • Survey shows gendered roles and expectations continue to hold back female legislators, unlike male counterparts, capping success and stunting ambitions
  • Female politicians receive fewer private donations on average than their male counterparts, and rely relatively more on party sponsorship and support
  • Media portrayal and voter perceptions of ”the woman’s place” seem to cast a longer shadow over female politicians’ decisions about whether or not to run for office

Women remain significantly underrepresented in politically elected positions across most developed and developing countries, as well as similarly underrepresented in senior ministerial posts, according to a joint study by the World Bank and the Women in Parliaments Global Forum (WIP). The study The Female Political Career, reflects survey results from male and female parliamentarians across 84 countries around the world designed to understand the hurdles women face in launching and sustaining successful political careers.

" This study provides an original survey to learn about the barriers that women face on the road to a career in politics. In collaboration with academic partners from leading research universities, this study represents a major advance in global knowledge on this critical front. The data distilled in this report casts an important light on the nature of the constraints women continue to face globally to enter the male-dominated world of politics "

Nayé A. Bathily

Head of the Global Parliamentary Unit, External and Corporate Relations of the World Bank

The report underscores an emerging global consensus around the importance of gender equality in all spheres of life, including political representation and leadership in business. The failure of national legislatures to reflect their populations is a sign of entry barriers, and deprives societies of female political talent. Although some countries employ quotas to hasten representational equality, women still occupy only 20% of lower-level parliamentary seats, on average, internationally.