Ana Catalano Weeks, Ph.D.

University of Bath

Country: United Kingdom (England)

About Me:

I am a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Comparative Politics at Department of Politics, Languages, & International Studies at the University of Bath. Before joining Bath, I was a College Fellow in the Department of Government at Harvard University and a Research Fellow in the Women and Public Policy Program (WAPPP) at the Harvard Kennedy School. I have a PhD in Political Science from Harvard University, an MSc in Comparative Politics (Europe) from the LSE, and an AB in Government from Dartmouth College. 

My research interests include gender and politics, political representation, and political parties, with a regional concentration in Western Europe. My work has appeared or is forthcoming in Comparative Political StudiesEuropean Political Science ReviewPolitical Research Quarterly, and Politics & Gender. I am working on a book about the effects of political gender quota laws on policy outcomes, focusing on work-family policies. For more, please see my website.

Research Interests

Gender and Politics

Political Parties and Interest Groups

Representation and Electoral Systems

European Politics

Public Policy

Gender Quotas

Gender Gap

Work-family Policies


Journal Articles:

(2018) Quotas and Party Priorities: Direct and Indirect Effects of Quota Laws, Political Research Quarterly

In light of increasing numbers of women in politics, extant research has examined the role of women in the parliamentary party on agenda-setting. This paper complements that literature by exploring the effect of a gendered institution theorized to promote both numbers of women and awareness of women’s interests: gender quota laws. I suggest that after a quota law, parties could have incentives to either reduce (backlash effect) or increase (salience effect) attention to women’s policy concerns. Using matching and regression methods with a panel data set of parties in advanced democracies, I find that parties in countries that implement a quota law devote more attention to social justice issues in their manifestos than similar parties in countries without a quota. Furthermore, the paper shows that this effect is driven entirely by the law itself. Contrary to expectations, quota laws are not associated with increases in women in my (short-term) sample; it is thus no surprise that no evidence of an indirect effect through numbers of women is found. I interpret the findings as evidence of quota contagion, whereby quotas cue party leaders to compete on gender equality issues.

(2018) Why Are Gender Quota Laws Adopted by Men? The Role of Inter- and Intra-Party Competition, Comparative Political Studies

In nearly every case of quota law adoption, the support of party elites is critical. But this raises a puzzle: What can motivate predominantly male elites to put these policies in place? This article uses a comparison of two sets of matched pair countries—similar on background characteristics except for quota adoption—to explore the motivations and role of male party elites in quota reform. The cases of Belgium and Austria, and Portugal and Italy highlight two key explanations. First, quota laws are likely to be supported and passed by parties threatened by a new, more progressive competitor on the left, as a way of claiming women voters back from the encroaching party (interparty competition). Second, quotas can be employed as a mechanism for party elites to gain power over candidate selection within their own parties in the face of entrenched local party monopolies (intraparty competition).

(2015) Quotas and qualifications: the impact of gender quota laws on the qualifications of legislators in the Italian parliament, European Political Science Review

This article addresses concerns that candidates nominated because of gender quota laws will be less qualified for office. While questions of candidate quality have long been relevant to legislative behavior, quota laws requiring a certain percentage of candidates for national office to be women have generated renewed interest. Gender quotas are often perceived to reduce the scope of political competition. By putting gender identity center stage, they preclude the possibility that elections will be based on ‘ideas’ or ‘merit’ alone. Other electoral rules that restrict candidate selection, such as the centralization of candidate selection common in closed list PR systems, have been found to reduce the quality of candidates. Rules that open selection, such as primaries, result in higher quality candidates. We exploit the institutional design of Italy’s mixed electoral system in 1994, where quotas were applied only to the PR portion of the list, to compare the qualifications of men, women, and ‘quota women’. We estimate regressions on several measures of deputies’ qualifications for office and performance in office. We find that unlike other rules limiting candidate selection, quotas are not associated with lower quality on most measures of qualifications. In fact, quota women have more local government experience than other legislators and lower rates of absenteeism than their male counterparts. Contrary to critics, quota laws may have a positive impact on legislator quality. Once the quota law was rescinded, quota women were less likely to be re-elected than non-quota women or men, which suggests that discrimination – not qualification – limits women’s status as candidates

Media Appearances:

Radio Appearances:

(2019) BBC Wiltshire

- Would Theresa May Be in the same situation if she were a man?

(2018) NPR Global Journalist

Gender Quotas on the March: On this edition of Global Journalist, a look at gender quotas in international politics and whether they've worked as intended.

(2018) BBC Devon, Scotland, Somerset, Shropshire, Sussex, Staffordshire.

BBC GNS Interviews: 100 year anniversary of first woman MP being elected

Newspaper Quotes:

(2018) Macleans

Why male political leaders pursue gender quota laws: A new study looks at the motivations of those who enact such laws and finds that there is often a surprising strategic purpose at play

(2018) Gli Stati Generali