The Recruitment of Women Cabinet Ministers in the Canadian Provinces

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Although there have been several studies of women in legislatures in Canada, a cabinet position is a much stronger position from which to wield power in an executive-centered and party-disciplined parliamentary system. In the past decade, the increase of women's share of legislative seats, for majority parties as well as others, has led to more women being appointed to cabinet portfolios. This article utilizes data from the ten Canadian provinces over an 18-year period, from 1976 to 1994, to assess patterns of such appointments by province, party, percentage of women in the governing party, and percentage of women in the legislature. The proportion of women in the governing party far outweighs other variables in its impact on the percentage of women in the cabinet, in contrast to a previous study of West European cabinets which found that more women in the legislature was of greater importance. Although a high level of multicollinearity indicates caution in attempting to distinguish between the impact of these two variables, the differences in these studies may be due to Canadian provinces having single-party majority governments while West European cabinets are often coalitions.