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Numbers and Newness: The Descriptive and Substantive Representation of Women Author(s): Karen Beckwith Reviewed work(s): Source: Canadian Journal of Political Science / Revue canadienne de science politique, Vol. 40, No. 1 (Mar., 2007), pp. 27-49 Published by: Canadian Political Science Association and the Société québécoise de science politique Stable URL: . Accessed: 11/01/2013 01:23
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Numbers and Newness: The Descriptive and Substantive Representation ofWomen

I. Introduction


Case Western Reserve University

"Does the election of more and more women mean thatwomen will be better represented?" (Reingold, 2000: 2). A wide body of literature on women and representation in the United States, well reviewed and well cited, indicates that the number of women in politics has a positive impact in terms of symbolic implications, policy ramifications and mobilization

consequences 1998; (Dodson, 2006; Reingold, 2000; Thomas andWilcox, Kathlene, 1998; Darcy, Welch and Clark, 1994). "[Descriptive represen tation by gender improves substantive representation forwomen in every polity for which we have a measure" (Mansbridge, 2005: 622). As the numbers of women in elective office in theUnited States have increased slowly and incrementally,1 so has the evidence that these increases may have policy ramifications. The linkage of women's descriptive and sub stantive representation?regardless, of how problematic that link might to be?has the the sheer number of women and to attention undergirded number-based theories of women's representation.2 This article examines the theoretical underpinnings of two number based theories employed by women and politics scholars to explain and to predict elected women's policy impacts: "critical mass" theory and sex-ratio (or proportions) theory. Each of these theories concerns the rela tionship between the numerical, descriptive presence of women and pub lic policy outcomes. In discussing these theories, I examine their utility for understanding the impact of an increasing number of elected women,

Readers who provided Acknowledgments: critiques of an earlier version of this arti cle include Lee Ann Banaszak, Sarah Childs, Rich Dodson, Phillip Cowley, Debra ard E. Matland, and Donley Studlar. They share all my gratitude and Pippa Norris none of the responsibility. Beckwith,


sity, Cleveland,

of Political Case Science, Department Ohio 44106 USA;




Canadian Journal ofPolitical Science /Revue canadienne de sciencepolitique 40:1 (March/mars 2007) 27-49 DOI: 10.1017/S0008423907070059 ? 2007 Canadian Political Science Association (l'Association canadiennede science politique) and/et la Societe quebecoise de science politique

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(2001:2-3)3 Similarly. as transform the institutional culture. But once surroundings. This content downloaded on Fri. When distinct minority within a larger society. 2006). political discourse. has a transformative impact upon legisla tures and serves to produce policy change. leading to even more women being chosen" (Studlar and McAllister. and discuss the importance of a focus on "newness" as well as "numbers" in studying links between women's descriptive and substantive representation. "would encourage and legitimize the presence of women in legislatures.. 2006). see Dolan. number-based models. 11 Jan 2013 01:23:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . once surpassed. the minority norms and values. 2002: 234). 2001: 3). Crit ical mass. and policy agenda" (Norris and Lov summarize critical enduski. critical mass models a relationship between numbers and outcome. 1988. 2005. when the number of women elected to parliaments increases beyond a certain point. Donley Studlar and Ian McAllister mass theory inmuch the same way. More recent research also suggests that increases inwomen's par at the liamentary presence are related towomen's electoral mobilization mass level. critical mass that there will theory suggests be a qualitative starts to assert change itself and in the nature thereby of group interactions.. conforming the group reaches a certain size. and increases inwomen's voting turnout (for theUS. at face value. once reached.28 Karen Beckwith identify hypotheses for testing. as a concept indicating women's descriptive representation. They con sider the claim that a critical mass of elected women. The most prevalent number-based scholarship linking women's descriptive and substantive political repre sentation focuses on the concept of "critical mass" (Childs and Krook. itsmembers will seek to adapt to their to the predominant rules of the game. II. the result should be "a transformation in the insti tutional culture. Critical Mass and Women's Substantive Representation Women's descriptive representation and the literature that addresses the means by which more women might be elected to national office involve. Norris and Lovenduski marize critical mass theory thus: posit sum a group remains a [T]he nature of group interactions depend upon size. but focus on the impact of a critical mass of elected women upon additional women's candidacies. 2002: 234). "Critical mass" links women's descriptive to representation policy change through the linchpin of a threshold num ber which.. Dahlerup. heightened interest in electoral politics among women. 2001) or from organizational behaviour research (Studlar and McAllister. Whether deriving from nuclear physics (Norris and Lovenduski.

2002. 2003. la theorie de la masse critique et 2. la nature du point d'intersection nouveaute/chiffres est should arguably have itsmost powerful impact on policy outcomes. or the percentage of women. the number of elected women constitutes the independent variable. or substantive representation (Dodson. ranging between 15 and 30 per cent (Beckwith and Cowell-Meyers. women's influence will be constrained at best. has been employed by women and politics scholars as a potential theoretical under pinning for explaining and predicting women's substantive representation in national legislatures. the number of women in a legislature rel ative to the size of the legislature. or a substantial increase in the number and proportion of women elected for the first time. critical mass two number-based theories of women's substantive representation? assesses their theoretical utility. First. and the variety of dependent variables identified in this body of scholarship. 1'article conclut en identifiant une ironie en ce qui concerne la recherche de masse critique et en soulignant le fait que forcement marquee par le genre. 2006. ou une augmentation sensible dans le nombre et les propor tions de femmes elues pour la premiere fois. la theorie proportionnelle du sex ratio. see Studlar and McAllister. sur la representation substantive des femmes. Offering a range of hypotheses for testing. Grey. Third. on women's substantive repre article examines This ness" and "numbers" identifies research design issues and discusses the intersection of "new for evaluating women's substantive representation in parliaments. 11 Jan 2013 01:23:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . upon women's Reingold. most scholars posit critical mass numbers that can be encompassed by a critical representation threshold. critical mass models of women's representation share several compo nents. 1992: 15). Le concept de ? masse critique ? issu de la physique et de la recherche en comporte ment organisationnel a ete utilise par les specialistes du rapport femmes et politique comme modele theorique possible pour expliquer et predire la representation substantive des femmes dans les legislatures nationales. estab lishes a critical mass. A partir d'un choix d'hypotheses permettant d'evaluer ces modeles. 2002: 235-238. sentation. There women to be that where constitute less than appears general agreement 15 percent of a legislative body. critical mass theory requires a longitudinal research strat egy. Cet article se propose d'examiner deux theories quantitatives de la representation substantive des femmes et d'evaluer leur utilite theorique : 1. The article Resume. operationalized by a measure of women's presence in national (or state) legislatures. This content downloaded on Fri. Larticle se penche sur les questions de methodologie de la recherche et analyse l'interet du ? nouveaute ? et ? chiffres ? pour 1'evaluation de la representation substan d'intersection point tive des femmes dans les parlements. Despite differences in focus on the potential and actual outcomes of increases in the number of women elected to national legislatures. et propose un autre modele base sur 1'incidence de la nouveaute. since its testing requires identifyingmovement across a critical rep resentational threshold across time. 2006).4 Finally. Bystydzienski. It theory and sex-ratio proportional theory?and then proposes the alternative of focusing on the impact of newness. Second. The concept of "critical mass." drawn from physics and organizational behaviour literatures. it concludes by identifying an irony for critical mass research and by underscoring the necessarily gendered nature of the newness-numbers intersection.Abstract.

A critical mass of women. but in polit ical science. each of which would require detailed. 2006). the richness and the vagueness of women's substantive represen tation. In the absence of a well-developed theory. insofar as critical mass is posed as a dichotomous variable. What critical representation threshold marks the beginning of important policy or preference changes. changes in legislative behavioural norms. ithas little explanatory value. automatic changes then ensue or. see Childs critical mass models In physics. in terms of. such as institutional cultural transformation. an increased ability of female legislators to enact policy. These include: 1) the under-theorized nature of crit ical mass. Its utility is variously presented as explaining access to nomina tions and (eventually) election to parliament. In theo retical terms. Because critical mass ultimately requires quantification. 2002). positive implications of critical mass are presented models must theorize explicit and. A dichotomous functioning of critical mass as a variable suggests that once critical mass is achieved. and increasingly fem inist public policy. in part. this necessitates a theoretical specification of a threshold and its justifi cation. however quantified. The under-theorized nature of critical mass is also evident in the fact that. presumably. consistent with specific outcomes. evidenced in the first instance by its treatment both as a concept for testing and as a larger theory (or at least model). critical mass to anticipated qualitative changes This content downloaded on Fri. 2) the problematics of conceptualizing critical mass. and 3) research design challenges (for furthercritiques of critical mass. The range of potential dependent variables reflects. 11 Jan 2013 01:23:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . it is unclear what specific number or percentage might ignite the transformations. it is unclear what factors tie critical mass positive and negative impacts. coalition building and policy enact ment. processes already under way accelerate. in a national legislature could be expected to have (explanatory) and what number or percentage constitutes the critical mass that sets these processes inmotion (predictive). Critical mass share common components. neither of which is clearly delineated. the source of increased feminization of public policy.30 Karen Problems While with Critical Mass Beckwith in the research on theory is severely underdeveloped women's descriptive and substantive representation. critical mass is linked to a process of change.5 The theoretical underdevelopment of critical mass is also evidenced the range of factors and behaviours it has been employed to explain by (see particularly the review of the literature by Studlar and McAllister. generally. for example. they also share similar shortcomings. in a more modest representation. policy initiatives or insti tutional culture. different impacts of crit ical mass upon each set of dependent variables. and why that threshold? and Krook. distinctive theorizing. Given the numbers of potential dependent variables.

time frame and small numbers problems. party coalitions. e. more general negative consequences an of include. however. First. elected to parliament. critical mass is ultimately pre sented as a dichotomous independent variable. The mass base for critical mass would provide more utility for the concept if itwere operationalized within specific parties (see. 2006: 36-37.8 Research Design Third. Studlar and McAllister.g. Particularly in regard to claims about the policy impacts of the increasing number of women in parliaments. Childs and Krook. most particularly political party. 2002a. These include an increasing hostility toward female legislators or increas ing resistance to the nomination of women. North America and Latin America has been fuelled pri marily by an increase in women's election from left-wing (rather than right-wing) parties. 2002b). a critical cutoff or threshold for critical mass has been difficult to specify. Beyond negative implica tions involving potential provocations to and hostilities ofmale legislators could and legislative gate-keepers. case selection will have to take into account. 2003. the early literature generally identified women elected to a national legislature as the "mass base" for a critical mass.. critical mass could also explain negative outcomes (see Beckwith and Cowell-Meyers. as ideological differences become highlighted with the higher num ber of women.6 conflating the number of women with the number of left-wingwomen.e. To test hypotheses based on critical mass.e. as increasing fragmentation female representatives of several parties form alliances along gender lines. where a critical mass of women is present (i. 11 Jan 2013 01:23:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . increase their likelihood) Challenges to support women's policy issues. Dodson. In terms of concept development.. Conceivably. above the threshold) or absent (i. Moreover. 2006. Sanbonmatsu. context. In operational izing critical mass.. implicitly advantaging gender relative to other factors. into left and right camps. the time-bound nature of previous findings of women's parliamentary presence and its effects. the block-booking of gender (female) and party (left-wing) may have led tomore optimistic con clusions about the impact of the number of women than iswarranted. indicating a critical rep resentation threshold. or an increasing polarization of female legislators. The increase inwomen's representation in parliaments in West Europe. first. Research on women's substantive policy representation generally (if not exclusively) employs a This content downloaded on Fri. 2005. 2002). critical mass models face specific research design challenges. for example. representing multiple parties. any research design attempting to assess the impact of a crit ical mass of elected women will necessarily require longitudinal analysis. below the threshold). Dodson. These include case selection. that a critical mass of women within a leftparty will leverage women in other parties (that is.7 permitting the development ofmore powerful and subtle hypotheses for testing?for example.Numbers and Newness 31 among the potential outcomes.

11 Jan 2013 01:23:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . clearly specified. The evidence is that Scandinavian nations 1988). 1987).32 Karen Beckwith post-1970 time frame. critical mass models will benefit from testing across a wide range of national parliaments. as well as in cases where women's numbers have declined across time (these cases may be difficult to find. which does not permit control for factors distinctive of Scandinavia 1992. 2003: 1). This content downloaded on Fri. [President] Nixon vetoed the bill inDecember 1971" (Banaszak. Similarly. Bratton. ation. and cases selected to provide a range of vari passed Congress with bipartisan support. legislation securing liberalized divorce in Italy in 1968 preceded increases inwomen's descrip tive representation (Beckwith. A larger time frame. To the extent ber of women in office in selected nations?risks that critical mass models embrace a claim that a threshold number of women will result in progressive public policy forwomen. Although the bill Second. These models have problematic empir ical underpinnings. "which would have provided federally regulated and funded child-care centers open to parents of all incomes on a sliding fee basis. including periods and par liaments when few or no women held national legislative office. however. in 1971.9 Dahlerup. identification of the threshold is a post facto specification based on the value of the dependent variable (in this example. empirical in parliaments and govern have notably large percentages of women ments. 2005). the threshold number can only be specified once the value of the dependent variable is known. Beckwith and Rucht. The application of models of substantive representation to periods when women were absent from parliaments will help to eluci date the process by which increases in descriptive representation lead to substantive policy progress forwomen. Selecting cases on the basis of an established critical mass num ber and current empirical evidence?that is. because some critical mass predictive claims have employed evidence from Scandinavian countries. theUS Congress nonetheless passed the Comprehensive Child Development Act. Case selection will provide greatest analytical leverage where par liaments with few women or littlewomen-friendly public policy are also chosen. For example. with only 10 women in the House and a lone woman in the Senate. Employ ing this reasoning. based upon the actual num a tautology. as well as enviable state welfare policies forwomen and children. may implicate factors other than women's parliamentary presence in the pro mulgation of women's policy issues. Critical mass models will have to be tested in conditions of few women in parliament. establishing a tautological equiv alence between the independent and dependent variables. see. (see Bystydzienski. That these two properties?high percentages of female legislators and feminist public policies?are simultaneously present is suggestive but not conclusive of a causal relationship. Case selection will have to be located in clearly theorized models. public policy outcomes).

tests of critical mass must be constructed tomeasure movement. nor dependent In addition to avoiding the tautology problem. 2003) and Sweden (45. as an intervening factor explaining hypoth esized results of women's legislative presence. is. see Tremblay. 1988. This includes taking into account.Numbers and Newness 33 Parliamentary Union. and sup port in civil society. they may over-determine conclusions drawn about the relationship between numbers of elected women and their polit ical representational impact.14 III. the type of governing party (for example. According solely on political will. Because policy success is not universally or perpetually available to political actors. the enactment of women's substantive represen tation will depend. Numbers-Based Policy Behaviour The Proportionality Model and Women's foundation for much representation political of the critical mass scholarship on women's is Rosabeth Moss Kanter's widely cited 1977 This content downloaded on Fri. rather than opposition. Longitudinal tests in several nations will serve to sort through the variety of factors that influence women's policy success. the inclusion of left parties in government. 2002) meet this threshold. left or right. half of which are northern European.3%. and only ten nations meet a 35 per cent thresh old. Finally. among other factors. upon numbers of women in the governing party. 30 per cent (Dahlerup.12 Eight nations meet a 30 per cent threshold. 1992: 15). three of which are northern European. 11 Jan 2013 01:23:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . the small-n problem becomes a small-n crisis. feminist or anti-feminist). Several critical repre sentation threshold numbers have been suggested in the literature: 40 per cent (Kanter. but it is empir ically untestable. primarily post-industrial).13 To the extent that these nations are distinctive (northern European. given that the range of nations with at least 40 per cent to the Inter female representation is distinctive and small.10 A 40 per cent threshold is a theoretically supported standard (see discussion of Kanter. 2006).11 only Rwanda (48. Cases will also have to be selected to provide variation in legislative context. 2006). below). social welfare states.When the empirical considerations move from women in legislatures to women within party groupings in legislatures. for example.85%. upon additional structural context variables (including the relationship of parliaments to their electoral systems. at the same time that they will be complicated by the influence very plethora of factors that can facilitate or impede women's within parties and legislatures. and 15 per cent (Bystydzienski. 1977). secular or confessional. 1977. because critical mass ultimately relies on change?that crossing a critical representational threshold. case selection regard ing critical mass faces a small numbers problem.

" and members are responsible to internal (firm/ theory of four levels of proportionality. Granovetter." She identifies porous thresholds.." In this article.. national legislatures have "strong cultural traditions and folklore .. Skewed groups "are those inwhich there is a large preponderance of one type over another. In skewed sex groups. Kanter focuses on skewed groups. Tilted groups are those inwhich the group membership ratio is closer to 65 [majority] :35 [minor ratio [approxi ity]. Kanter establishes a numbers-based proportionality model. focusing to numbers ofmen in "a large [Fortune 500] industrial corporation. up to a ratio of perhaps 85 [dominants]: 15 [tokens]" (1977: 966). concerning the ratio of members of dominant groups to token members. In particular. Kanter does not use the term "critical mass. Another advantage isKanter's focus on women as a politically relevant subgroup (1977: 968) and on This content downloaded on Fri. causing men as the dominant group to create pressures that shape token women's response. 11 Jan 2013 01:23:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . groups become balanced when the "typological mates] 60:40 down to 50:50" (1977: 966). Kanter's model is distinctive in that it is a numbers-based model con cerned with proportionality rather than critical mass. specific to their self-identification as men and women and to their understandings of masculine and feminine behaviours. and hypoth esizes about the effects of these different proportions. akin to but distinct from critical mass models.15 and hence Kanter's hypotheses and case discussion appear to be an excellent fit for modeling women's descriptive representation and its substantive effects (1977: 965). where women are tokens. Uniform groups include members of only one group. 1978) or borders where. Kanter anticipates that token status would create "perfor is." where few women were employed (1977: 970). the interactive behaviour of men and women is expected to change as well (1977: 967. interpersonal skills . She establishes a numbers-based parliament) and external (customers/constituents) actors. approximations of "tipping points" (1977: 986. count heavily. Kanter examines the rela sub tionship between the numbers of members of various sociological on women their and the of relative numbers groups interactions. women's visibility and ascribed characteristics serve to identify them as different.34 Karen Beckwith American Journal of Sociology article on "Some Effects of Proportions on Group Life: Skewed Sex Ratios and Responses to Token Women. as proportions change. The "skewed sex ratio" is still the case in many national legislatures. on how men and women interactwithin gendered relationships?that an organization.. requiring that they "manage relations" (1977: 970-971). Proportion creates conditions that shape legislators' behaviour.. arguing that the group balance between dominants and tokens "is one encountered by large numbers of women in groups and organiza tions in which numerical distributions have traditionally favored men" (1977: 966). Figure 1). Kanter's case focus is helpfully analogous to the case of women in parliaments: like sales firms.

status. 11 Jan 2013 01:23:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions ." that is. of "exclusion from occasions on which informal socialization and political activity take place" (1977: 980)." itwould be "difficult for [women] to generate an alliance that [could] become powerful in the group" (1977: Kanter speculates that tokens would be subject 978) and that token loyalty to dominants would be against their [tokens'] own social category" (1977: 966). In regard tomen as a dominant group and women as a token group. The motive for this paired behaviour is the risk. Kanter ismore concerned with the gendered relationships between male dominants and female tokens than she iswith the relationships among female tokens. for example. in a position to look good in the organization" This content downloaded on Fri. Kanter theo rizes about the behaviours of members of both groups in interaction.. In regard to these hypotheses. Kanter provides a theoretical grounding concerning interactions under condi (1977: 987). In regard to the behaviour of token women and their visibility. Kanter suggests. or as women of the same (allies) or of a different (opposition) A final adaptive behaviour of female tokens. to loyalty tests (1977: paired with "turning prevent them from being 980). "although ithas become almost cliche to acknowledge diver sity. and behav iour highly salient formajority category members" (1977: 968). pro viding a theoretical underpinning to her speculations about gender and proportionality that is often missing in discussions of women's descrip tive and substantive political representation that rely on critical mass. is that of conservative behaviour and "minimizing change. Kanter's discussion of tokenwomen is also silent on the extent to which women differ among themselves. capturing the multiplicity of ways women's gendered preferences and interestsmay be manifested at any given time is difficult using empir ical standards . that implicitly (if not explicitly) use uniformity of behav iour among women as a standard against which gender's impact is judged" (2001: 15).women would '[carry] the bur den of representing their category" (1977: 973). theymay be sensitive to additional status differences. in a context of tokenism..Numbers mance and Newness 35 pressures" on tokens." in part as a response to "role entrapment" (1977: 984). Elected women may recognize not only their shared gender status but. and where members of under-represented groups share "ascribed characteristics . where inequalities have political relevance. Elected women may be aware of each other not only as women. Women would find it difficult to perform without attracting "public notice. An additional consequence of risking disloyalty could be that tokens' isolation from the dominant group would "exclude them from situations in which important learning about a task is taking place and may also tions of inequality.16As Dod son observes. Kanter also hypothesizes that as token representatives of their category. Lastly.. that carry with them a set of assumptions about culture. "as symbols rather than individuals." and women's behaviour would be over interpreted as "representational.. otherwise.

As scholars continue to assess the potential of a proportional or sex ratio numbers-based theory of women's descriptive and substantive polit party. Where Women Are Token Representatives What are the possibilities for women's substantive representation when elected women constitute fewer than 15 per cent of parliamentary mem bership. women iour study concerns (what appears to be) a homogeneous organization in terms of hierarchy.. "Recognizing logical identities. Although there are obvious analogies between parlia are similarly male-dominated. they will need to provide detailed theorizing for hypotheses about policy preferences among and across women in parlia in single legislatures or sev ments. below. preliminary hypotheses. 11 Jan 2013 01:23:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . develop.36 Karen Beckwith ical representation. may be a critical ences] step for understanding the imperfect link IV. and ideo reminds us. hypothesize positive as well as negative policy outcomes. and specify whether the effects are linear or curvilinear. religious. they elected men (regardless of party).17 between descriptive and substantive representation of women" (2006: 14). derived from Kanter's that the work. behav the to account for portionality and group behaviour requires modification on women's divisions their the between and partisan impact relationship a I and substantive series of descriptive representation. employ a longitudinal methodology eral cross-sectional in multiple parliaments to achieve the analyses proportional variation necessary for testing. As Dodson [these differ . and where at least 85 per cent of the parliament ismale? These might include the following: Where constitute fewer than 15 per cent of a national legisla more likely to support party programmes than will will be ture. ethnic. structure and accountability. In contrast. Developing Hypotheses for Numbers ofWomen A gendered theoretical modification of Kanter's work is necessary for testing numbers-based models concerning the presence of elected women in legislatures. organizational This content downloaded on Fri. national leg islatures are organizations highly divided by party. again.. Kanter's model of pro of parliaments. begin project of sorting out specific impacts of women in token and minority repre sentation in parliaments. but also as women with different race. ments and large corporations?parliaments women and the numbers of in parliaments remain small?one distinctive difference between national explicitly partisan nature legislatures and corporations Kanter's is.

Where Women Are a Minority Kanter's proportionality model generated hypotheses only for token groups of women. they will be more conservative in their policy preferences than will elected men (regardless of party). In Kanter's terms. they will be more likely to defy party whips (or vote against party leader ship) than their female counterparts in parliaments where elected women are tokens. several hypotheses might be devel oped for testing the relationship between women's descriptive and sub stantive representation.Numbers and Newness 37 Where women constitute fewer than 15 per cent of a national legisla ture. Where women constitute fewer than 15 per cent of a national legisla ture. Kanter's rea soning suggests the following potential hypotheses:18 Because Where women constitute a minority of parliamentary members (where men constitute no more than 65 percent). 11 Jan 2013 01:23:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Where women constitute fewer than 15 per cent of a national legisla ture. This content downloaded on Fri. Where women constitute a minority of parliamentary members. theywill be less likely to vote against a party line thanwill elected men (regardless of issue). Based on Kanter's work on tokens. should decrease. female legislators' presence should become more usual and less "doubly deviant" (1977: 977). in parliaments and in parliamentary party groups. especially from the perspective of polit ical change. theywill be more likely to attractmedia attention (and more neg ative media attention) than will theirmale colleagues. they will be more likely to initiate and to support progressive or radical legislative proposals than their female counterparts in parliaments where elected women are tokens. they will be less likely to support party programmes than will their female counterparts in par liaments where elected women are tokens. What ismore interesting. theywill be less likely to organize a gender-based power alliance within the legislature than in legislatures where women are a minority (rather than tokens). is how token behaviours are ormight be transformed as num bers of women increase and as the sex-ratio approaches balance. Where women constitute less than 15 per cent of a national legislature. their social isolation. In conditions where women constitute a minority in parliament. Where women constitute a minority of parliamentary members. there is little guidance for testing hypotheses where the sex-ratio approaches balance or where group boundaries are crossed. where numbers of women increase and as male/ female sex-ratios shift from dominant/token (85:15) tomajority/minority (65:35).

women will hold dispro portionately more party and parliamentary leadership positions than would be the case where women constitute only token parliamentary presence. in other words." Rephrased hypoth eses would require longitudinal testing and would still be subject to some form of threshold consideration. the response of women and men to newness can be expected to occur within parties specifically and within parliaments generally. 11 Jan 2013 01:23:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . however. formerly token women will now is likely to require find themselves part of an enhanced minority. likely to diminish across time. focusing primarily on women's "rarity" (1977: 969 n2). 2001).with newness. they can also be treated as relative. Furthermore. parties increasing the number of women they elect to parliaments. Kanter does not. however. V. and within parliaments them selves. rather than simply an incremental influence (2002: 238). from token tominority status. age) and the situation inwhich "the token's social type is not only rare but also new to the setting of the dominants" (1977: 969). By newness. She suggests that the "surprise value" of tokens. and Unpredictability One element of Kanter's work on the effects of sex-ratios has attracted little notice and less testing: the concept of "newness" (see. Where women constitute a minority of parliamentary members. Studlar and McAllister argue that hypotheses linking women's numerical presence in parlia ments to substantive representation should posit an accelerating impact of women's increased descriptive representation. "as the percentage of women in a parliament increases. they will be more likely to organize a gender-based power alliance within the legislature than in legislatures where women are tokens. is a factor that could permit "us to see the development of patterns of adjustment as well as the perception of and response to tokens" (1977: 969).19 Newness as success within have in impact political parties. race. Although these hypotheses are cast as deterministic.38 Karen Beckwith Where women constitute a minority of parliamentary members (between 15 and 35 per cent of a national legislature). As the number of women in parliament shifts. Cowley and Childs. Newness. That is. operationalize newness and pro vides little discussion of it. involving claims of ordinality. Newness This content downloaded on Fri. I mean a substantial increase in the number and pro should have an portion of women elected for the first time. Newness of female representatives should affect both women and men in parliaments. Kanter identifies two "conditions that heighten and dramatize the effects" of tokenism: the physical visibility of tokens (for example. sex. Uncertainty.

the new Labour women were tar gets of substantial attention and criticism. they may be positioned as more numerous than incumbent women and as a sizeable minority of new legislators (including men). for example. The actual occasions of newness.20 This content downloaded on Fri. the opportunity for "newness" occurs biannually. punitive and divisive. in contrast. the potentially cumula tive continuing impact of newness within specific legislatures.) Newness as well as numbers of elected women varies across time in national parliaments. however. and by male legislators. For example. which themselves are likely to affect the chances for women's substantive representation in parliaments. overwhelmingly Labour Party candidates. by women already serving in a national legislature. Any consideration of the impact of newness and numbers of elected women upon women's substantive representation will have to take into account the cross-time variation of these factors. and how those play out within political Although the trajectory of elected women inmany legislatures fol lows a pattern of incremental increase (this is the case in the US. Kanter suggests that the reaction from dominants (where women are tokens) and frommajorities (where women constitute a substantial minor ity) toward women may be negative. and by incumbents. attracted extensive media attention. In Britain. providing a longer period of adjustment. Dramatic increases in the number of women and of women newly elected are likely to have an impact on internal legislative behaviours and arrange ments. (See Table 1 for the percentages of new women relative to incumbent women in their party delegations. may have a strong impact on the practical newness of elected MPs.Numbers and Newness 39 adjustment by all parliamentary actors: by women newly elected. It is reasonable to expect that a large number of new female legislators will require accommoda tion by male legislators. elected to theHouse of Commons in 1997. Categorized by the media by the disparaging moniker "Blair's Babes" (see Norris and Lovenduski. how ever. for the US. 11 Jan 2013 01:23:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . In the United States. are moderated by the strong incumbency effects of the US Congress. the fre quency opportunities of newness. parliamentary elec tions may be as infrequent as every five years. including incumbent women. Women's small numbers and status as new arrivals are likely tomake itdifficult for them to assume office and to undertake legislative work without attracting pub lic notice. the percentage of newly elected women may be more likely to demonstrate a pattern of spike and decline (see. Table 1). Party discipline and party candidate selection rules. see Table 2). 2001: 2). adaptation and incorporation of newly elected women into the Commons. about half of whom were new members. If women are newly elected and there are many of them. the large numbers of women. including from other Labour parties. and hence the potentially disruptive impact of newly elected female tokens orminorities is frequent.

In regard to women's descriptive suggests that. Nutting and Stern.8% 2002 13. in the US House of Representatives 2006".8% 25.6% 11.1% (1) (28) (23) (20) 57. 11 Jan 2013 01:23:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .0% 14. 2001: 19 n3).0% 7. second is number of new Republican women/number of all Republican women.9% 1992 42.0% Source: 8. Kanter's work bined with "token status" provoke responses from dominants that shape distinctive behaviours among tokens. ****Percentage Foerstel. Percentage is calculated as number of all women newly elected/number of all women elected. 1999.3% 48.4% (9) (12) (10) (7) 17.7% (10) (6) (4) (67) "Women **First percentage is calculated as number of new Democratic women/number of all women elected.0% (12) (5) 16.0% 15.0% 1994 10.5% 17.9% to the US House New Republicans*** _K6% 6\4% All Women**** 26. 2005). "Women Serving in the 107th Congress". "Women in theUS Congress 2006".9% 5.1% 25.4% 17.2% 1996 16.6% (7) (48) 41.4% 15.6% 5.0% 10.3% 5. for a token group.7% 24.8% (3) (8) (5) (60) 6.2% 12.9% 1998 5. is calculated as number of all women/number of all House seats.7% 14.4% 1990 New Democrats** 17.9% (3) (56) (59) (3) 11.8% 23.4% 16.6% 12.3% (7) (4) 16.6 (3) (54) 12. Cowley and Childs (2001: 1) report Brian and Sedgemore's reference to new Labour women as "Stepford Wives" Ann Widdecombe's protest that "the comparison was an insult to the Step fordWives" (Cowley and Childs. ***First percentage is calculated as number of new Republican women/number of all women elected.1% 22. "newness" com This content downloaded on Fri. 2001.9% 2004 9.40 Karen Table 1 Newly Elected Beckwith Number and Percentage ofWomen of Representatives.7% 9. 1990-2004_ Year New Women* 21.7% 13.3% 17.0% (3) (47) 14.0% 13.7% 2000 6.6% (5) (6) 11. second is number of new Democratic women/number of all Democratic women. MPs (Lovenduski.

who died in 2002. 1974 to 2004_ Year Republican Women* Democratic Women** Total 1974 1976 3~5% 4^8%4A% (5) (14) (19) 3.2% 11.S.0% 16.0% (17) (31) (48) 1996 7.7%5.7% 4.6% 18. (D-HI). as number of Republican women elected/number of all Republicans.8% (21) (39) (60) 10.1%5.4% 21.4% 4.0% 13.8% (12) (35) (47) 7.9% 12.5% 4.1% (5) (13) (18) 1978 1980 1982 3.4% (9) (19) (28) 6. *Percentage **Percentage ***lncludes Patsy Takemoto Mink This content downloaded on Fri. by Party.1% 19.0% 3.8%*** (18) 2002 2004 Source: "Women in the U.2% 4.5% 15.1% 4.Numbers Table 2 and Newness 41 Number and Percentage ofWomen Elected to theUS House of Representatives.4% 7.2% 19.9% 4.4% (17) (37) (54) 1998 7.4% (10) (11) (21) 5.3% (11) (12) (23) 6.5% 12.1% (11) (12) (23) 6.8% 14.7% 4.9% (17) (39) (56) 2000 8. (42) (60) 9.9% 5.6% (5) (11) (16) (9) (13) (22) 1984 1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 4." 1917-2001.8%* 13. is calculated as number of Democratic women elected/number of all Democrats.4%6.2% 4.4% (24) (43) (67) is calculated "Women in the US Congress 2006.0% 10.1% 6.3% 5.7% (13) (16) (29) 5. 11 Jan 2013 01:23:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .4% 15.5% 4." Congress.

Cowley and Childs' work. male or female. 2006). they will be more likely to support party programmes than will their incumbent female counterparts. theywill be less likely to defy party whips (or vote against party leadership) than their incumbent female counter parts. incumbents. They will also be more likely to support party programmes thanwill party incum bents. for a token group. Where women These hypotheses address newness in parliament by party. for example. they will be less likely to initiate and to support progressive or radical legislative proposals than their incum bent female counterparts. elected for the first time in 1997. only incumbent women were willing to defy party directives to vote for the Family and Medical Leave Act (1993) and against the Personal Responsibility andWork Opportunity Act (1996). Concerning Newness Hypotheses Kanter's work suggests that. newly elected women constitute a minority of women in their party parliamentary group. newly elected women may be more likely to support party programmes. both numbers and newness could there fore be expected to produce distinctive legislative behaviours among newly elected women. male or female. In regard towomen's descriptive and substan tive representation. they were also more likely to act independently in supporting women friendlypositions on these bills thanwere incumbent men or newly elected (Beckwith. among women in rd the 103 and 104th Congresses. male or female.21 Other research has found that. both numbers and newness could therefore be expected to intersect to produce elected women. although these behaviours also varied across Congresses. behaved gests This content downloaded on Fri. Among Where distinctive legislative behaviours among newly testable hypotheses are the following: Where newly elected women constitute a minority of women of their party parliamentary group. sug that female Labour MPs. newness combined with token status provokes responses from dominants that shape distinctive behaviours among tokens.42 Karen Beckwith and substantive representation. They will also be less likely to defy party whips than will party newly elected women constitute a minority of women in their party parliamentary group. 11 Jan 2013 01:23:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . They will also be less likely to support rad ical legislation than will party incumbents. male or female. and less likely to ini tiate and to support progressive or radical legislative proposals than are party incumbents. less likely to defy party whips (or vote against party leadership). With specific regard to policy behaviour. Debra Dodson (2006) found evidence of differences in the policy behaviours of women newly elected to the US House. There is some evidence of support for some of these hypotheses.

men will learn to accommodate them. VI. instead. Elected women's This content downloaded on Fri.Numbers and Newness 43 differently from other new MPs (that is.22 In "doing politics differently. for strengthening their own party ties. That is. in party and parliamentary context. a governing party may have increased to its electoral advantage and find itself more favourably positioned advance its policies. range by unpredictabilities: uncertainties among newly elected women about their capacity for legis lative influence and uncertainties among incumbents about the (not yet) predictable (in party and parliamentary terms) behaviour of the newly elected. "Newness. 2001: 17. the difference may not be attributable to a critical mass threshold or a shift in proportion of female tomale legislators. Studlar and McAllister (2002) suggest that. both male and female. norms and folkways of legis latures. and for acting independently in policy making. that is. an opposition party may have increased its parlia mentary presence. see also Childs. addi tional uncertainties and unpredictabilities may obtain. thatnewness be seen as both a feature of newly elected individual women. hence. newly elected women "do pol itics differently" (Cowley and Childs. I argue that the difference may be the product of the intersection of numbers and newness. for political women to have a legislative impact. in socializing and adapting to numbers of newly elected women there within their party and within the larger legislature. (that is. 2001). Conclusion What impact does the product of numbers and newness have upon pos women's "rar sibilities for substantive representation? Kanter suggests that men from in and learning organizations where ity" requires adjustment by men are dominant and that as women become a fixity in an organization. I suggest. Newness also occurs in a newly elected legislature and. and as a feature of the response of incumbents. A governing party may have lost a parliamentary election and an opposition party may come to power in the new parliament." a of uncertainties and is characterized fore." however. men) and from other women In short. they need to be representatives of a conducive party and they need to be able to "work" the party. numbers of newly elected women will experience positive and negative opportunities for construct ing cross-party alliances among women. who must learn the institutional structures. strengthening its capacity to influence government pol icy. within specific parliaments and within specific parties positioned as government or opposition. In each of these cases. to persuade party leadership and male colleagues of the virtues of supporting poli cies that provide substantive representation forwomen.Kanter sees rarity or new ness as an aggregate characteristic of organizations. 11 Jan 2013 01:23:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . incumbent female MPs).

23 Second. Darcy and Karen Beckwith (1991) found that women were more likely to be elected in large numbers when a party previously in opposition became opportunities for such influence should be enhanced when the number of women is high. First. Because major political loss for a governing party oftenmeans major political victories forwomen of the opposition. or women's newly elected status?a status which may diminish the capacity of women to translate their increased numbers into women-friendly legislation. when a party has lost and its prospects appear with underestimate its chances of victory in succeeding elections. male candidates may be more difficult to recruit. They are also more likely to lack the experience and party position necessary to resist any of their party's directives thatmight undermine women-friendly public policy (see Lovenduski. The very factors that enhance women's descriptive representation may be those Darcy and Beckwith's research implies that large numbers of elected women necessarily intersect with newness. 2002. "Under con ditions where a party does better than originally anticipated. 2006." to parliaments greatest experience necessary to mobilize quickly for women-friendly legisla tion. They reasoned that a previous electoral defeat may create three potential opportunities for female candidates. The intersection of numbers and newness creates an irony: the moments in which parties elect large numbers of women are the same moments when parties enjoy new majority and governing status. a party "may find it difficult to identify new male candidates. In such circum stances. If substantial numbers of women are newly elected. In a study of women's election to lower chambers of 13West European parliaments. some times permanently. providing additional opportunities for the nomination of women" (Darcy and Beckwith. 1991: 5). Beckwith. Mink. 11 Jan 2013 01:23:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 2006. see also Katzenstein. 2003). it may find itself electing many women who were nominated on the assumption that the party would lose" (Darcy and Beckwith. those women are more likely to lack the parliamentary This content downloaded on Fri. hence positive opportunities forwomen's increased numerical representation may be paired with negative opportunities forwomen's policy successes. 1991: 5). a defeated party may misestimate or the governing party. opening candidacy opportunities for women in the next election. Dodson. for the US. major electoral losses for a party remove its incumbents from parliament. or a high number of newly dim. in a party that has become the governing party. Darcy and Beck (1991: 3) concluded and winning thatwomen's seats "are chances of gaining nominations in electoral contests where there is a substantial shift in party competition" and that "increases in women's electoral representation [are likely to be] incremental and distinct. 2005 on Britain.44 Karen Beckwith elected women. Finally. substantial increases in numbers of women in parlia ments will of necessity depend upon newness. R.

offers the greater utility for understanding the relationship have its least positive policy impacts. to the US House of Representatives 3 4 Childs and Krook identify critical mass as "the magic number where female legisla tors are said to be able tomake a difference" (2006: 522). Beckwith 2003. Where parties and parliaments experience a substantial increase in the numbers and proportions of elected women. upon institutional norms and practices. Childs and Withey. 1985. with research hypoth eses worded: "As the percentage of women elected to a legislature increases. when newly elected women lack necessary experience and supportive party. . however. the problem of conceptual clarity remains unsolved. and they can have an impact upon theirmale colleagues between women's descriptive and substantive representation. where the large number of voting women and the increasing propor tion that voting women constitute in the overall electorate have potential election outcome determining consequences.. 2005. Childs and Krook. among others. and Cowell-Meyers. 2001. These possibilities suggest further that a focus on the intersec tion of numbers and newness. Notes 1 2 The has This number increased of women and percentage in every Congress since elected 1978. and Crowley. potentially. See. 2006. Norris. 5 The in parliament in a hypothesized linked to changes specifically What process is put inmotion by the increase that then causes sion in section III of this article.Numbers and Newness 45 that undermine women's ability to promote women's substantive repre sentation. 2004. Cowell-Meyers. challenges as a lack of conceptual clarity is not easily resolved by treating critical mass relative concept." This rewording is not strictly a "critical mass" hypothesis. but one that tests the effects of increasing numbers of female legislators. women's newness functions to underscore interaction between elected women and men. Newly elected women. rather than on critical mass or a threshold proportion. A final conclusion concerns the ultimately gendered nature of the intersection of numbers and newness. then This content downloaded on Fri. a substantial increase in the numbers and proportions of women elected for the first time. deriving from organizational behaviour models. with re-election. 1955. for example. whose research attention to numbers is reflected politically and theoretically in scholarship on the gender gap. In addition. How is an increase in the percentage of women dependent change? variable? See discus this general agreement. The interactions and iterations of newly elected women and incumbency imply cross institutional integration and their positioning time analysis of women's for women's substantive representation. and foregrounding the gendered nature of legisla tive politics and the possibilities forwomen's substantive representation.. revealing their actual and potential institutional influence and power. 11 Jan 2013 01:23:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 6 See. can become incumbents. however. however. Newness. movement and institu tional context. Duverger. in terms of women-friendly legis lation and women's substantive representation. may and.

2005).2%. the shift from governance the party balance (left v. This sec token women rather than comparing groups of women ond set of hypotheses is crafted to assess the substantive impact of the descriptive differences bers rather than other categorical Studlar and McAllister argue that hypotheses This content downloaded on Fri.3%. ited and emphasizes the interactions between focusing discusses (1977: 16 Kanter 17 mental influence(linear) (2002: 238). although the discussion on num two token women. Burundi Guyana Africa (30.6% 2006). and solutions. Grey.4%. rather than simply an incre set of hypotheses. in numerical presence linking women's to substantive should posit an accelerating impact of parliaments representation women's increased descriptive representation (curvilinear)." These include Belgium (just under a strict 35% threshold at 34. Dodson. Argentina These are Austria (30.0%. again.5%. Kathleen Dolan cratic as Republican reports that "there Democratic are more successful women than Republican seeking office.8%. 2004). Democratic in the past 25 years. women lists the "world average" The Inter-Parliamentary Union lower house membership). right). membership the numerical and 29. on data for 172 countries.8%. 2005). 2004) Iceland (33. 2005) and Mozambique (36." 2006). The 10 11 12 13 the Netherlands (36. 11 Jan 2013 01:23:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 2004). Finland 2005). and Democratic women than Republican bers of Congress this partisan disproportion. 2003) and Norway (37. that have women 15 2006. South and Tanzania (30. (35. ten include Costa Rica (38.46 Karen 7 In the United Beckwith women are more women women have constituted themajority of elected House States.3 per cent of all women presence and policy distinctive in the of a mass base of "all women" elected ness of the California 107th Congress 8 Dodson its potential policy influence. 982-983. Germany (31. ("Women is lim relationships between token women. 2005). and the type of party in government 2006). to the is greater among liberals than extent thatmen's support for feminist policy objectives a shift to the right has the potential to make feminist policy goals a sell and to reduce the level of influence feminist activists have in rais calculations delegation. 987). 83 exceed skewed status (that is. to account for this subset and conservatives. (37. Bystydzienski recognizes case (1992: 22). for the lower chamber of parliament for the most recent elections. in the legislature.7%. Democratic women in primaries and general elec than Republican mem women make up a greater proportion of the Democratic women tions. see Studlar and McAllister. 18 These 979. 2005). more difficult 9 ing participant awareness of conditions." Note in this article.5%. the extent to which selection of the "mass 107th Congress 4 per cent of the entire House to the House need in 2000. Beyond base" of women of Democratic almost might women make up of their party's total" (2006: 30). Of the 172 countries in the lower houses of their national legisla constitute at least 15 per cent of the tures. not only in their focus hypotheses differ from the previous of upon minority rather than token representation of women.9%. but in their comparison and dominant men.8 per in parliaments of women's numerical representation cent for lower houses inNational Parliaments. there were nearly three times as many Demo women elected to the House. Parliaments.9%. By 2000. and 16. Cuba (36.0%. focusing that Dahlerup does not endorse a critical mass model the limitations of instead on "critical acts" (1988.6 per cent. women from California. 17members were Democratic (2001-2003). of lib this when she writes: "Although the dominance (2002: 16) addresses in historically masculine erals is no assurance of feminist success institutions. See "Women inNational 2006. 2001). to opposition. among others (see 14 These include. 2003). 2003). Spain (34%. range of thresholds. 2003) Denmark For the extensive (36. In the from California. (33. Given skew policy results emerges when one considers the presence a powerful subset of House women. 2005).8%. 2006). problems. New Zealand (32.9%. generalizing from the Norwegian Based 2002. (32.0%.7%. 2003). as 16. 2002).

ed.Numbers and Newness 47 19 Here newness I operationalize in regard to women. ofWomen: Newness. Beckwith. of Commons. NJ: Eagleton Institute of Politics. raising additional of newness (Andersen andThorson. also 101-4). 2005." In Women State. to nomination and include attentiveness political parties. Phil adelphia: Temple University Press. in Interactive Changes Women's Movements and States. Lee Ann Banaszak. This content downloaded on Fri. politics. 1992. "Congressional Andersen. Mary Fainsod Katzenstein and Carol McClurg Mueller. about the potential impact questions and Choike. "Women in the US House of Represen tatives 2006. see (Dodson. of Token Women 2005." Unpublished manuscript. 2006. Bratton. Abor In The Women sMovements tion." Western Political Quarterly 143-56.. turnover suggests that women literature on women's have 1993). Darcy 21 Democrats?had "Five of the [23] newly elected women in the House?all con in the Democratically provision sponsored at least one WHEA trolled 103 rd. Karen. Issues in the US Congress. eds. differences within parliaments greater male/female 20 Within 1995. "Acting for Incumbency and Votes on Women's to Feminism Karen. August 29-September Women: Newness. this would as well as recruitment patterns (e. Numbers. 153-71. by a freshman or even sophomore Republican In the 103rd Congress. n8.Welch and Studlar. Karen Beckwith and Dieter Rucht. for example. Kanter reflects briefly on newness (1977: 969 n2). yet not one component of the 104th's WHEA of 1996 was sponsored woman" 2006: 193. 1. Bystydzienski. "When Banaszak." New Brunswick. August 28-31.g." of the Amer Paper presented at the annual meeting ican Political Science Association. and Sexual Violence Legislation. 11 Jan 2013 01:23:29 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 2002. tion practices. "The Substantive Representation and Models of Representation. "Response in the Italian Parliament: Divorce. MA. Center for American Women and Politics. Boston. 37(1): Turnover and the Election Power Relocates: sMovements Fac and Dieter Rucht. Kristi and Stuart Thorson. 1984. and rarity in regard to black men. Beckwith. Rutgers University. Palmer and Simon. "Influence of Women's Culture on Public Politics in Nor Jill M. The constitute a minority representation of women where women is thatmore women (an increase in descrip underlying assumption of these hypotheses tive representation) should predict more gender-distinctive and policy preferences and within parties. PA." Beckwith. Norris and Lovenduski. Newness could also specifically in regard to any politically relevant subgroup entering parliament be operationalized for the first time. JillM. eds. Philadelphia. lower incumbency rates than men.1996). 22 23 discussion of the impact of and the UK House Congress to leave An unsuccessful incumbent may decide fail to renominate or reselect a failed incumbent References 1984. The modest selec in the legislature. of Lee Ann." of the United States and Western Europe. 2002. 11-23. Bystydzienski." 1(1): 97-125. Women. Kathleen A. 1986. 2003. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association. Karen and Kimberly Cowell-Meyers. IN: Indiana University Press. his or her party may also for subsequent campaigns. 1-29. Beckwith. "Sheer Numbers. Bloomington. Karen Beckwith ing the Reconfigured Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1987. way." In Women Transforming Politics: Worldwide Strategies for Empowerment. 2003. "Critical Mass The Behavior and Success Theory Revisited: Politics & Gender in State Legislatures. Karen. For a more detailed decisions in the US newly elected women upon policy see Beckwith. 2006.

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