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Running in place: Overcoming barriers for women in Canadian municipal politics

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This paper explores ways that Canadian municipal governments can increase the number of women who run for Mayor and City Councilor positions. I first provide an overview of barriers for women’s political representation in Canada and an analysis of the current gender gap at the municipal level. I then outline my research, which consists of interviews both with women elected as Mayors and City Councilors in Canada as well as with subject matter experts. Based on these interviews the major barrier identified for women is a negative political environment, namely through gendered comments and assumptions. My research leads to five policy options which are analyzed using standardized criteria and measures. I conclude that gender-equity mandates for municipal boards and advisory committees is the best option for increasing the number of women who run for municipal office; this would happen via skill-building and making the political culture more welcoming to women.
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