Until women reach an equitable distribution in shared governance it is questionable whether a true democracy can exist.
I am writing about some of the considerations of how women’s wisdom might or does influence the development of democratic governance, not a critique of any one government nor any one poltical party. In fact, the article I read recently which motivated me to write this, The relationship between democracy and women participation in politics, in Journal of Public Administration and Governance provided an international perspective on the subject of women and democracy.
Gender equity in governance is not a sign of democracy, it is a goal of states that strive toward democracy.
What women’s wisdom brings to democratic efforts:
Women, whatever the reason, tend to create less hierarchical systems than men, and cooperative and collaborative structures are necessary in democratic governments.
Karl Popper described democracy as “a system that makes it possible to get rid of a government without spilling blood.”
Again, no reason is forwarded, but violent crimes, crimes that spill blood, tend to be perpetrated by men. Over 80% of violent crime in the U.S. is attributed to men, and 90% of all murders. However, when the violence is within the home or family, rates for women commiting violent acts increases significantly.
Democracy requires rules, usually a constitution, that specifies the essential rules for creation and maintenance of the democracy.
Women follow the rules more than men do. Again the why is up for debate, but we know that in corridors of power women are more severely punished for violation of rules than men, even though the transgretions may be identical to those of men. Women, with all other factors held equal, women break the rules at a much lower rate. The publication, Working Women, as well as Bloomberg, recently reported on the implications of the original study whose abstract (or summary) I recommend you read.
Democracy requires that the people have a voice in government. Women are more cooperative and more likely to engage with others in collaborative settings. So the character of representational government bodies may well take on a more talkative and personal nature when collaboration is expected and the governing body reflects the male/female ratio of society at large.
Do women talk more than men? Maybe yes, maybe no, but when the expectation is open to collaboration, women talk more and are more likely to talk in close proximity to each other. A paper in Nature reports these findings that were discussed in more generally accessible terms by Amanda Duberman in a Huffington Post article.
It is interesting to note that more women does not equal a more democratic institution. The first paper I mentioned at the beginning of this post highlights that autocratic governments actually have more women in governance than democratic institutions thus far in the world.
Women are necessary, but not sufficient, to democracy. First, there must be an expectation of collaboration, an adherence to the rules, and an expectation of non-violence, then we have a shot at a real democracy.