Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
Research Institute of Industrial Economics

No 1034: The Glass Ceiling in Politics: Formalization and Empirical Tests

Olle Folke () and Johanna Rickne ()
Additional contact information
Olle Folke: Columbia University, Postal: and Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN), Stockholm, Sweden
Johanna Rickne: SOFI, Stockholm University

Abstract: There is a scarcity of women and minorities at the apex of political power. This paper formalizes the concept of the glass ceiling for political organizations and builds on previous research to suggest four testable criteria. A glass ceiling exists if women and/or racial minorities (1) are discriminated against in the organization’s promotion process and (2) the discrimination increases in severity for the top levels of power and over an individual’s career trajectory. We suggest a series of empirical tests for this phenomenon and apply them to longitudinal data on Swedish politicians. Results show that women face a glass ceiling, while minorities’ career disadvantages are more severe at the earlier career steps (a "sticky floor").

Keywords: Glass ceiling; Political careers; Subnational politics; Women and politics; Supply of politicians; Gender inequality; Racial inequality

JEL-codes: H10; J16; J21; J45

66 pages, August 12, 2014

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