Skip to main content

Building

A better future

through education, skill development and research

LEARN MORE

Study Questions European Parliament’s Perception as Champion of Gender Equality

The European Parliament is often viewed as the most democratic and gender equal decision-making institution of the European Union. A new Journal of Common Market Studies article critically scrutinizes this assumption through an analysis of female members’ perceptions.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019 9:35 am EDT
"In face of the upcoming European Parliament elections in May 2019, it is relevant to underline how women and men are represented in the Parliament and how issues of gender equality are dealt with in the party groups"

The European Parliament is often viewed as the most democratic and gender equal decision-making institution of the European Union. A new Journal of Common Market Studies article critically scrutinizes this assumption through an analysis of female members’ perceptions.

The study analyses the gendered experiences of 18 female members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from two Nordic countries, Denmark and Finland. When Dr. Johanna Kantola, of Tampere University in Finland, and Dr. Lise Rolandsen Agustín, of Aalborg University in Denmark, interviewed these women, they found that the institutional culture of the European Parliament is characterized by gender stereotypes and different expectations towards male and female MEPs. For example, policy areas dominated by male MEPs are considered to be more prestigious, and female MEPs are not expected to be experts on areas such as economic policies. Young female MEPs especially found it necessary to overcompensate, by working harder than others and emphasizing their ‘strong character’, in order to advance in their careers and get ahead in the power hierarchy.

“The European Parliament is not the clear champion of gender equality that we would like it to be; the shortcomings in the maternity/paternity leave rights within the Parliament, such as proxy voting, for instance, suggests an exclusionary character,” said Dr. Kantola. “This results in MEPs feeling that they have to choose between a political career and motherhood or being faced with serious challenges in balancing work and family life when expectations towards them as politicians and as mothers collide.”

The findings are being released at a time of pending elections, which take place every five years. “In face of the upcoming European Parliament elections in May 2019, it is relevant to underline how women and men are represented in the Parliament and how issues of gender equality are dealt with in the party groups,” said Dr. Agustín. “When we look at the gender composition of the political groups at the leadership and coordinator level, we find that GUE/NGL and Greens/EFA are the most gender equal groups, followed by S&D and ALDE. The most gender unequal are EPP and ECR; however, the EPP group shows some recent practices to enhance gender equality within their group, through some provisions for gender balanced representation and informal women’s networks.”

Additional Information

Link to Study: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jcms.12885

About Journal 

JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies is a leading multidisciplinary journal that publishes high quality and accessible articles advancing debates in European and comparative regionalism studies. JCMS seeks to reach beyond the traditional grounding of the field, which focuses on the politics European Integration.

For over 50 years, JCMS has been the forum for meaningful discussions about European politics, drawing on the research of and/or challenge boundaries within the field. JCMS thus has the scope to examine a broad set of research questions.

About Wiley

Wiley drives the world forward with research and education. Our scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly journals and our digital learning, certification, and student-lifecycle services and solutions help students, researchers, universities, and corporations to achieve their goals in an ever-changing world. For more than 200 years, we have delivered consistent performance to all of our stakeholders. The Company's website can be accessed at www.wiley.com.

Multimedia Files:

Preview image
Image is from a recent seminar that the research project EUGenDem organized in the European Parliament on these topics. The pictures show academics debating the issue with MEPs, parliamentary staff, and an Inter-Parliamentary Union representative. Dr. Kantola is standing. Credit: François de Ribaucourt (David Plas Photography)

Contact:

Penny Smith +44 (0) 1243 770448 (UK)
newsroom@wiley.com

Business Wire NewsHQsm