Women and visible minority representation on Vancouver’s city council

Date created: 
Electoral representation
Candidate recruitment
Supply and demand

The 2018 municipal elections highlighted that visible minorities, particularly visible minority women, are underrepresented in Vancouver’s politics; yet, in terms of population, visible minorities outnumber white Vancouverites. I examine to what extent and how socioeconomic and political factors derived from the supply and demand literature contribute to the underrepresentation or lack thereof of women and visible minorities. A supply-side problem results in the lack of women and minority representation when there are not enough “qualified” women and visible minorities running for office. A demand-side problem occurs when party officials act as gatekeepers discouraging women and visible minorities from running for office. I answer this question using a combination of the statistical analysis of secondary data on candidates from 2005 to 2018 and a content analysis of data derived from semi-structured interviews with incumbent city councilors and municipal party officials involved in candidate recruitment. Results show that women are not underrepresented in the Vancouver city council. In fact, women have the best chance of winning as long as they are white women. Visible minorities are underrepresented because there are not enough “qualified” visible minority candidates running. Those who run not only have less socioeconomic resources than white candidates but also experience party officials serving as gatekeepers.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes. Copyright remains with the author.
Senior supervisor: 
Eline de Rooij
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Political Science
Thesis type: 
(Research Project) M.A.