Political Cleavages based on Gender and Ethnicity

Henry Vaule



Memo #13


In CCR, Mala Htun investigates gender’s relation to ethnicity in political representation. She argues that unlike ethnicity, there are very few political cleavages based on gender. Instead, gender is crosscutting, which means that one cleavage or group overlaps with another. Htun also emphasizes that gender does not correlate with class or rank. Although a specific group within the cleavages of gender and ethnicity have experienced discrimination, the division of gender includes much more people. Today, countries have made progressive changes to include more of the minority ethnic groups within their governments. However, a large proportion of these countries have failed to make the same changes for the minority gender, which in most cases are women.


Even though American is known as an epicenter for democracy and acceptance, our history is filled with bigotry towards certain groups. Congress recently swore in two Muslum Congresswomen, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib. The Congresswomen won in the midterm elections in November. Both women and Muslims are still facing varied forms of hatred in America. This recent election marks a great point for Muslims and women because these politicians are the first Muslim women to ever be elected into Congress. This election helped contradict any negative notions about Muslims and show the increasing number of supporters Congresswomen are gaining in their respective districts.


How can granted reserved seats for each ethnic and gender group within a legislature, benefit and harm the productivity of a government?


Reserving a certain number of seat for each group would allow for a more diverse array of opinions that take a greater number of people into account. However, this system would also cause more differences and overall separation between cleavages.  


James Tyler Dickovick, and Jonathan Eastwood. Comparative Politics: Classic and Contemporary Readings. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017.)

Michelle Boorstein, Marisa Iati, and Julie Zauzmer. “The Nation’s First Two Muslim Congresswomen Are Sworn In, Surrounded by the Women They Inspired.” The Washington Post. (January 03, 2019.) https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2019/01/03/americas-first-two-muslim-congresswomen-are-sworn-surrounded-by-women-they-inspired/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.08fa2a433b54.

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