Should I stay or Should I go?

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Over a hundred years have passed since women in The Netherlands obtained both active and passive suffrage rights. Despite this, the representation of women in local and national politics is still not close to being equal. Further, research has pointed out that many local council members, especially women, drop out of local council before or after only one term. This thesis investigates the institutional factors that lead to women dropping out of local councils in The Netherlands. The study is an important contribution to academic literature on descriptive representation of women in local politics. Not only because such an in-depth study on Dutch municipal councils has not yet been done. Additionally, because this thesis incorporates a feminist institutionalist lens to the research. The study is based on 22 semi-structured interviews with active and resigned council members, mostly women, from three Dutch municipalities: Utrecht, Sittard-Geleen and Doetinchem. Evidence has been found that women have a different, often more negative, experience in the council because of formal procedures, such as council meeting times. Further, women experience being treated differently in the council because of (other) council members´ pre-existing ideas on gender. Nevertheless, women council members ultimately drop out because they are unable to balance their council duties with a (full-time) employment and/or family responsibilities. Finally, data suggests that councils provide little to no assistance in achieving a better work-life balance.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen