Katja Möhring, Céline Teney
Equality prescribed? Contextual determinants of citizens’ support for gender boardroom quotas across Europe

Comparative European Politics, 2020: 18, Heft 4, S. 560–589
ISSN: 1472-4790 (print), 1740-388X (online)

We provide the first cross-national comparative study of citizens’ support for affirmative action policies in the economy using the example of gender quotas for company boards. In contrast to previous studies, we focus on the contextual level and analyse how factors related to political institutions and actors, and economic and social structure shape citizens’ support and the gap in support between men and women. We apply multilevel regression analyses of Eurobarometer data for 27 European countries. Levels of support and gender gaps in support for boardroom quotas vary largely between countries. Contextual factors related to existing quota laws, gender equality in social and economic life, and public opinion towards state intervention are important determinants of cross-national variation. Our results point to an ambiguous relationship of support for gender quotas and actual gender equality in a country. Citizens’ endorsement of quotas is low in countries with high levels of formal gender equality. Support is higher in countries where interventionist policies are widely accepted. Also, existing quota laws are positively related to citizens’ support of boardroom quotas.