Following up a previous post on political opportunity in the United States and Europe, this graph shows the share of seats held by women in the main legislative body (parliament’s “lower” house) in the U.S. and nineteen other rich democracies. The data are from the Inter-Parliamentary Union. Though not far behind France, the United Kingdom, and Italy, America’s share is one of the lowest. When the new Congress convenes in January, women will hold just 17% of the seats in the House of Representatives (and 17% in the Senate). The figure for Germany is 32%. In Sweden, at the high end, it’s 47%.
A report on how women fared in the 2008 U.S. elections is here. A good introduction to cross-country differences and over-time developments is Women, Politics, and Power, by Pam Paxton and Melanie Hughes.