What do we know about campaign finance and gender so far? The scoping review as an analysis tool with a feminist approach


¿Qué sabemos hasta ahora sobre el financiamiento de campañas y género? La revisión panorámica como herramienta de análisis con un enfoque feminista




Maria Cecília Eduardo

Juliana Inez Luiz de Souza

Rodrigo Rossi Horochovski




Federal University of Paraná – Brazil

Pompeu Fabra University – Spain

Federal University of Paraná – Brazil



Recibido:   15-03-2023

Aceptado:  27-05 -2023




This paper aims to present the scoping review as an analysis tool for the feminist debate. Through the use of this bibliometric technique, we surveyed the academic production of two central themes of political science: campaign finance and female political participation. To understand what has the literature shown us so far, we produced a state of the art based on 51 articles found in two databases (Scopus and Web of Science). We could see that even with the increase in production on these themes, the male authorship status quo remains, and gender-related issues in political processes continue to be peripheral in the debate. This fact reinforces the need for a feminist perspective that looks at gender beyond an analysis variable.

Keywords: female political participation, feminist theories, campaign finance, scope review.



Este artículo tiene como objetivo presentar la revisión panorámica como una herramienta de análisis para el debate feminista. Mediante el uso de esta técnica bibliométrica, relevamos la producción académica de dos temas centrales de la ciencia política: el financiamiento de campañas y la participación política femenina. Para comprender lo que la literatura nos ha mostrado hasta ahora, elaboramos lo que existe de más moderno basado en 51 artículos que se encuentran en dos bases de datos (Scopus y Web of Science). Pudimos observar que incluso con el aumento de la producción sobre estos temas, el status quo de la autoría masculina se mantiene y los temas relacionados con el género en los procesos políticos continúan siendo periféricos en el debate. Este hecho refuerza la necesidad de una perspectiva feminista que mire el género más allá de una variable de análisis.

Palabras clave: participación política femenina, teorías feministas, financiación de campañas, revisión de alcances.

1. Introduction



Due to the significant and accelerated production in the various fields of knowledge (Ferrari, 2015), the literature review has also been mobilized as a research method. Its use can offer a more accurate examination of the state of the art of a particular topic or research problem (Snyder, 2019).

Since systematic and transparent methods are especially valued and expected in academic production (King, 1995; Babbie, 2003), we opted for a different path than the traditional narrative review of the literature. This choice was made for two reasons: (i) the proposal to apply a promising technique but still little used in Political Science and (ii) because we understand that an impartial survey of publications can offer a more accurate overview of the disclosures considered to be of greater relevance to the researched topic.

Our objective is to present an overview of the scientific production addressing two political science themes: campaign financing and female political participation. Both are objects of several studies (Ballington, Kahane, 2014; Barber, Butler and Preece, 2016; Feo, Fiorelli and Piccio, 2021) and are highly relevant for the academic community and society in general (Dahl, 2009; Przeworski, 1994; Lijphart, 1999; Inglehart and Norris, 2016).

The systematic review requires a high degree of specificity (Munn et al., 2018) and it stills little used in investigations in the field of Political Science (Dacombe, 2018). Therefore, the scoping review emerges as an appropriate choice to respond to the question proposed in this article: what has the literature on campaign finance and women’s participation shown us so far? For this, we focused the analysis on scientific journals, the primary vehicles for disseminating scientific research and confidential sources for evaluating the development of themes within a discipline (Araújo and Alvarenga, 2011; Nicolau and Oliveira, 2017).

Through the scoping review, we produced a state of the art mapping published in the following databases: Scopus Core Collection and Web of Science (WoS) - the Main Collection and the SciELO Citation Index (Scientific Electronic Library Online). These choices are justified because these platforms are the leading citation databases frequently used to classify journals of a given discipline. In the case of the first two, the information generated by them indicates the journals that are active in covering relevant and current research, as well as influential in shaping future research fields (Abrizah et al., 2013).

The choice of SciELO is because this electronic library is considered responsible for the growing visibility and quality of articles in Latin America. Currently, this library gathers national publications from 13 countries in the region. Its development arises precisely to respond to the needs of scientific communication in the countries of the global South, with publications from institutions in South Africa, Portugal, and Spain (Scielo, 2022; Santos, 2014; Packer et al., 1998).

From the findings presented in the text, we highlight that the scientific production of the relationship between electoral financing and female political participation has increased. However, there are still many gaps. The observation of the mainstreams publication of this theme shows that, despite the growing female presence, a male authorship status quo remains, and gender-related issues in political processes continue to be peripheral in the debate. This marginalization leads to thinking about how the Political Science research area reflects the field it studies. In addition, it highlights the need for these political science themes to be treated from a feminist perspective that looks at gender not just as an analysis variable or as a synonym for characteristics related to the body of men and women (Goertz, Mazur, 2008).

The analysis of the 51 selected articles showed that women are the majority of the principal author of these works. However, men generally follow in more significant numbers in the group analysis. The United States of America, and its educational institutions, appear as the most productive poles in this agenda. Furthermore, regarding the means of dissemination, journals focused on discussions on gender or women’s studies are the largest publishers on the subject. As for the variables that appear in the investigations, gender and electoral performance are the most mobilized, making it possible to identify a division into two large groups: one that seeks to ascertain the effect of gender on electoral financing and another which assesses the effect of gender electoral financing on electoral performance.



2. The scoping review as a bibliographic and a feminist analysis tool



A research method widely used by the health sciences, the systematic review has been gaining space in investigations related to education, social work, public policies, and criminology (Dacombe, 2018). As it seeks to answer a specific question on a given topic, research on using systematic review suggests that other systematic procedures precede it (Arksey y O’Malley, 2005; Munn et al., 2018), with the scoping review one of them.

This technique, as the name implies, seeks to determine the scope or coverage of a body of literature on a given topic, providing a clear indication of the volume of production and studies available, as well as an overview (broad or detailed) of it (Munn et al., 2018).

In addition to the high degree of definition of the research question, the systematic review and the scope review are differentiated because the first one uses studies with appropriate research designs and is identified in advance. Scoping review, on the other hand, tends to address broader topics, being able to deal with a sample that has different research designs. Furthermore, the quality of the works analyzed in the systematic review is a central point of the technique. The same does not occur in the scoping review (Arksey y O’Malley, 2005).

Scoping reviews help examine emerging evidence when it still needs to be clarified and what more specific questions can be asked and addressed by a systematic review. At a general level, they aim to map the fundamental concepts of an area of research, the primary sources, and the types of evidence available.

The classic work by Hilary Arskey and Lisa O’Malley (2005) on this technique lists four reasons for performing a scoping review. They are:


1) Identify the types of evidence available in a given field;

2) Determine whether a systematic review is feasible and necessary;

3) Summarize and disseminate the results of the research carried out and

4) Identify existing gaps in the literature.


The same authors suggest five stages for conducting a scoping review. Below, we present these stages and how they were conducted in this review based on a feminist perspective.

Stage 1 – Identification of the research question: The process starts with a question that will guide the development of the research. In this case, the main question driving this scoping review is: What has the literature on campaign finance and women’s participation shown us so far?

Stage 2 – Survey of relevant studies: The next step is to clarify how the data were obtained, with a detailed explanation of the inclusion and exclusion criteria applied. In this investigation, the literature survey was carried out on June 07, 2021, with a search update on March 05, 2022, on the Web of Science (WoS) and Scopus websites[1].

The search terms used in WoS, with the completion fields connected by the term “AND” were:


FIRST LINE: “campaign funding” OR “campaign finance” OR “electoral finance” OR “finance campaign” OR “financing electoral” OR “political finance” OR “political financing” OR “campaign spending” OR “fundraising” OR “fund-raising” OR “campaign contributions” OR “electoral spending” OR “campaign spending” OR “election spending” OR ORcampaign donations” OR “campaign fundraising” OR “electoral financing

SECOND LINE: wom* OR woman* OR mujer* OR female OR feminin* OR feminine

Scopus search fields, due to platform limitations, terms related to funding were divided into two lines. We emphasize that between the first two, the selected linking term was “OR,” and between them and the third was “AND”:

FIRST LINE: “campaign funding” OR “campaign finance” OR “campaign spending” OR “political finance” OR “electoral finance” OR “finance campaign” OR “political finance” OR “campaign contributions

SECOND LINE: “political funding” OR “funding political” OR “fundraising” OR “fund-raising” OR “electoral spending" OR “electoral expenses” OR “campaign donations” OR “campaign fundraising” OR “electoral financing

THIRD LINE: wom* OR woman* OR mujer* OR female OR feminin* OR feminine

Stage 3 – Selection of studies: Process of inclusion and exclusion of texts found in the search results with the justification of these choices. Among our criteria, the first concerns the publication area, which we define as Social Sciences. The second was the type of publication. We considered only documents classified as articles. Finally, all works that addressed the theme of campaign financing aimed at female participation were included, and the others were excluded. This stage marks the inclusion of a feminist perspective since the decision was to keep only the articles that dealt with female participation in elections and not just mention its existence.


Detailing the first search in WoS, we found 434 documents, of which 363 were classified as Social Sciences, and 341 were considered articles. The first search in Scopus resulted in 49 documents, with 42 classified in Social Sciences and 33 articles.

By reading the abstracts of the 341 articles obtained from the WoS, we found that 303 papers did not meet the inclusion criteria. That is, they did not address the issue of campaign finance aimed at female political participation. Removing these cases, we had a total of 38 articles. Also, at this stage, we found that the article “Strategic litigation for gender equality: The case of campaign funds for female candidates” appears twice, once with the title in Portuguese and another with the title in English. Because it is the exact text published in the same magazine issue, one of the versions was disregarded, leaving 37 productions.

Six of the 33 articles found in Scopus were disregarded after reading their abstracts because they did not fit the inclusion criteria. In this case, they did not address the investigated topic. Thus, the total of this base was 27 documents.

Comparing search results showed that 23 articles were present on both platforms. Four papers presented in Scopus do not appear in the WoS collection, and 14 documents were found only in this last collection. Thus, at first, we have a total of 41 articles.

Given the rapid dissemination of new articles, on March 5th, we redid the search using the same terms on the WoS website. With that, we had access to nine new texts that fit the proposed criteria and were included in the analysis.

One of the texts “Editorial introduction: Gender and politics financing” (Murray; Muriaas; Wang, 2021), as it is a presentation of a special issue of the magazine International Political Science Review, was removed from the corpus. Moreover, the three articles mentioned therein that had not appeared in the update search and that met all the inclusion criteria were included:

- ‘Above all, it will boil down to money problems’: The impact of gender-targeted public financing on political parties and women candidates in South Korea (Shin, Kwon, 2022),

- It’s a rich man’s world: How class and glass ceilings intersect for UK parliamentary candidates (Murray, 2021), and

- Campaign expenditures and electoral outcomes in Israeli legislative primaries - A financial gender gap? (Atmor, Harsgor, Kenig, 2021).


With that, we reached 51 articles for carrying out the scoping review. All the names of the articles covered as well as their authors are in Table 1.


Table 1 – Description of articles analyzed with author(s), publication year, and title.



Author(s), publication year



Burrell, 1985

Women’s and men’s campaigns for the U.S. house of representatives, 1972-1982. A Finance Gap?


Ingalls, Arrington, 1991

The role of gender in local campaign financing: The case of Charlotte, North Carolina


Herrick, 1996

Is there a gender gap in the value of campaign resources?


Werner, 1997

Financing the campaigns of women candidates and their opponents: Evidence from three states, 1982-1990


Dabelko, Herrnson, 1997

Women’s and men’s campaigns for the US House of Representatives


Francia, 2001

Early fundraising by nonincumbent female congressional candidates: The importance of women's PACs


Hogan, 2007

The effects of candidate gender on campaign spending in state legislative elections


Jenkins, 2007

A woman’s work is never done? Fund-raising perception and effort among female state legislative candidates


Day, Hadley, 2002

Who contributes? Similarities and differences between contributors to EMILY’s list and WISH list


Crespin, Deitz, 2010

If You Can’t Join ‘Em, Beat ‘Em: The Gender Gap in Individual Donations to Congressional Candidates


Adams, Schreiber, 2010

Gender, campaign finance, and electoral success in municipal elections


Hogan, 2010

Candidate Gender and Voter Support in State Legislative Elections


Barber, Butler, Preece, 2016

Gender Inequalities in Campaign Finance


Kitchens, Swers, 2016

Why Aren’t There More Republican Women in Congress? Gender, Partisanship, and Fundraising Support in the 2010 and 2012 Elections


Thomsen, Swers, 2017

Which Women Can Run? Gender, Partisanship, and Candidate Donor Networks


Heerwig, Gordon, 2018

Buying a Voice: Gendered Contribution Careers among Affluent Political Donors to Federal Elections, 1980-2008


Wiltse, 2018

Subsidizing Equality: Female Candidate Emergence and Clean Elections


Brooks, Hayes, 2018

How Messages About Gender Bias Can Both Help and Hurt Women’s Representation


Fraga, Hassell, 2020

Are Minority and Women Candidates Penalized by Party Politics? Race, Gender, and Access to Party Support


Grumbach, Sahn, Staszak, 2020

Gender, Race, and Intersectionality in Campaign Finance


Sanbonmatsu, Rogers, 2020

Advancing Research on Gender and Gubernatorial Campaign Finance


Heberlig, Larson, 2020

Gender and Small Contributions: Fundraising by the Democratic Freshman Class of 2018 in the 2020 Election Symposium: The 2020 US Elections


Sorensen, Chen, 2021

Identity in Campaign Finance and Elections: The Impact of Gender and Race on Money Raised in 2010-2018 US House Elections


Piscopo, Hinojosa, Thomas, Siavelis, 2021

Follow the Money: Gender, Incumbency, and Campaign Funding in Chile


Herrnson, Hunt, Kettler, 2022

Vive la Difference? Is There a Gender Gap in Campaign Strategy and Spending, and Does It Matter?


James, 2022

There’s No Women’s Mafia: Women's Donor Groups in State Legislative Elections


Wylie, 2020

Taking bread off the table: Race, gender, resource and political ambition in Brazil


Janusz, Barreiro, Cintron, 2021

Political parties and campaign resource allocation: Gender gaps in Brazilian elections


Sacchet, Speck, 2012

Financiamento eleitoral, representação política e gênero: uma análise das eleições de 2006


Speck, Mancuso, 2014

A study on the impact of campaign finance, political capital and gender on electoral performance


Mancuso et al., 2016

Corporate Dependence in Brazil's 2010 Elections for Federal Deputy


Brollo, Troiano, 2016

What happens when a woman wins an election? Evidence from close races in Brazil


Carlomagno, Codato, 2018

Profissão, sexo e dinheiro: mensuração da acumulação de desigualdades na competição eleitoral brasileira


Sacchet, 2018

Why gender quotas don’t work in Brazil? The role of the electoral system and political finance


Campos, 2019

Litígio estratégico para igualdade de gênero: O caso das verbas de campanha para mulheres candidatas


Kushner, Siegel, Stanwick, 1997

Ontario municipal elections: Voting trends and determinants of electoral success in a Canadian province


Rekkas, 2008

Gender and Elections: An Examination of the 2006 Canadian Federal Election


Tolley, Besco, Sevi, 2020

Who Controls the Purse Strings? A Longitudinal Study of Gender and Donations in Canadian Politics


McElroy, Marsh, 2010

Candidate Gender and Voter Choice: Analysis from a Multimember Preferential Voting System


Buckley, Mariani, 2021

Money matters: The impact of gender quotas on campaign spending for women candidates


Feo, Piccio, 2020

Promoting Gender Equality through Party Funding: Symbolic Policies at Work in Italy


Feo, Fiorelli, Piccio, 2021

Gendered patterns in candidates’ campaign fundraising: The case of Italy


Song, 2020

The effect of public financing on candidate reemergence and success in elections


Shin, Kwon, 2022

‘Above all, it will boil down to money problems’: The impact of gender- targeted public financing on political parties and women candidates in South Korea


Ruf, 2021

Does Non-Quota Strategy Matter? A Comparative Study on Candidate Selection and Women's Representation at the Local Level in Germany


Hillman, 2018

The Limits of Gender Quotas: Women’s Parliamentary Representation in Indonesia


Smulders, Put, Maddens, 2018

How legislative gender quotas affect the gender gap in campaign spending: an analysis of the federal and regional elections in Belgium


Gamboa, Morales, 2021

Candidate Gender Quotas and Campaign Spending in Open-List Proportional Representation Systems: The Case of Chile


Murray, 2021

It’s a rich man’s world: How class and glass ceilings intersect for UK parliamentary candidates


Atmor, Harsgor, Kenig, 2021

Campaign expenditures and electoral outcomes in Israeli legislative primaries – A financial gender gap?


Wang, Muriaas, Bauer, 2021

Funding demands and gender in political recruitment: What parties do in Cabo Verde and Ghana

Source: own elaboration.

Stage 4 – Data Mapping: The next stage of the work involved listing the main information obtained from the reviewed articles. The objective is to synthesize and interpret the data found. For that, it is necessary to define which elements will be registered. These notes are in the following results section where we raise the following information:


1) When do publications on campaign finance and women’s participation occur, and who writes them?

2) Where has this research agenda been most active?

3) Which scientific journals publish on this topic?

4) The case studies address the dynamics of funding in which countries?

5) What type of research is done?

6) What is the level of competition analyzed?

7) What variables are listed in the dynamics of campaign finance for women, and what are the relationships between them?


Stage 5: Collect, summarize, and report results: Finally, this step presents an overview of all the revised material, which can be done in a narrative form and with tables and graphs. The text should contain: a summary of the main findings and their interpretation, in addition to indicating proposals for future research based on the gaps found. This phase integrated into the results is described in the conclusion of this paper.



3. Results



3.1. When do publications on finance and gender take place, and who writes them?


The first publication dates from 1985; however, there is no annual constancy. Following the trend of scientific productions in general, there is an increase in the number of articles that address the topic in question (Graph 1), with 2021 being the year with the most significant dissemination of the debate so far. In addition, it is possible to notice that over time, there are more works carried out in co-authorship, which is in line with the idea of increasing academic cooperation, already mentioned in other studies (Codato, Horochovski and Massimo, 2017; Sampaio and Figueiredo Filho, 2019; Gonçalves, 2021).




Graph 1. Articles published by year and by type of authorship


Source: own elaboration.



Regarding the gender of authorship, there is a difference between the number of productions headed by men and women, 24 and 27, respectively. The women are the leading author in most investigations of mixed co-authorship and have a slight advantage in individual authorship (Graph 2).



Graph 2. Type of production by gender


Source: own elaboration.


Despite the female predominance mentioned above, men still form a larger group in the total count of names (Graph 3). The analyzed articles had 54 names of male researchers against 46 female researchers. This difference is in line with the findings of previous works that, approaching the area of Political Science publication as a whole, found a smaller presence of women in publications, whether in international English-language journals or Latin American and Brazilian journals (Mörschbächer, 2018; Lima, Mörschbächer and Peres, 2018).

The graph below shows the distribution of total productions by gender over the analyzed period. Women inaugurated this research agenda and remained present for almost all years, with only three exceptions (1991, 2001, and 2014). In 2020, there was an increase in female participation, and in 2021 the number of authors almost doubled (from eight to 14). The male presence remains higher practically every year, except for 2021.

However, it cannot be denied that women appear more active in this debate, as they are the leading author in most research. At this point, it is interesting to mention what Enzo Lenine and Melina Mörschbächer (2020) observed in their bibliographic survey. The authors noted that, if it were not for the female researchers, discussions on gender issues would not be brought to the spaces of dissemination of Political Science.



                                              Graph 3. Number of productions by gender and year                                


Source: own elaboration.


The significant male participation in these publications can be explained by the fact that political finance is considered one of the most important topics on the world political agenda (Zovatto, 2005). That is, the researchersprimary motivation would be more linked to funding dynamics than gender relations per se.

Finally, despite the numbers presented, Political Science remains predominantly male, and research on gender continues with a niche production character. Even though this survey shows a slightly different picture, with a more balanced scenario between the genders, this does not change the fact that women remain a minority in positions considered strategic concerning education and research.


3.2. Where has this research agenda been most active?


The articles in this corpus were developed in 70 educational institutions spread across 14 countries. Graph 4 shows the countries with a minimum of two articles published. The following names were omitted because have only one publication: Germany, Australia, Belgium, Chile, Israel, Japan, and Norway.

Of the 51 works, 22 resulted from initiatives between institutions in the same country, and four were international partnerships. Among these, three have the participation of US universities. Therefore, there needs to be more international circulation of authors in this debate—however, there is a significant partnership between institutions in the same country.



Graph 4. Number of articles by country of research institutions


Source: own elaboration.


Still, on teaching centers, we highlight Louisiana State University, which had three publications on this topic, the highest number. Remember that two of these works were made by the same author: Robert E. Hogan (2007, 2010). Other US institutions that stand out with two articles each are the State University of New York, the University of North Carolina, the University of Maryland, and Georgetown University. Interestingly, no center dominates this production since it is dispersed from an institutional point of view.

The predominance of the United States of America (USA) and its institutions in this research agenda is clear, which can be explained by the fact that this country was the locus of the institutionalization of Political Science (Lima, Mörschbächer and Peres, 2018) and, consequently, the pioneer in the production and dissemination of knowledge in the area. It is worth mentioning that the first Department of Political Science at Columbia University was created more than 100 years ago, in 1880 (Leite, 2016).

We must, however, mention that this result can also be seen as a consequence of the colonialism of intellectual production and the difficulty of inserting the global South in these spaces of academic dissemination (Santos, 2014).

Take second place, the Brazilian educational institutions that, despite presenting a significantly smaller number of works compared to the first place, draw attention given the late constitution of Political Science as an academic discipline in the country, which occurred only in the years 1960 (Oliveira et al., 2019). Of the six Brazilian universities, we highlight the University of São Paulo with three published articles.

Canadian universities are in third place, with the University of Toronto responsible for two of the three studies in the country. It is also worth mentioning some names that, according to this survey, were more dedicated to investigating this theme: Bruno Wilhelm Speck, Daniela R. Piccio, Francesca Feo, Michele L. Swers, Robert E. Hogan, Teresa Sacchet, and Wagner Pralon Mancuso. The first name is in three works, and the others are in two.


3.3. Which scientific journals publish on this topic?


The analysis of the journals surveyed in this research shows that seven is the maximum number of publications published in the same media. It is worth mentioning that the International Political Science Review, which ranks second, has a special edition on the topic in question, as mentioned earlier. In theOtherscategory, there are 19 newspapers with only one publication, that are: Quarterly Journal of Political Science, Social Science Quarterly, Journal of Urban Affairs, Journal of Contemporary Asia, Journal of Elections Public Opinion and Parties, European Journal of Political Economy, International Political Science Review, Comparative Political Studies, Journal of Development Economics, Colombia International (Colombia Internacional), Law and Praxis Magazine (Revista Direito e Práxis), European Journal of Politics and Gender, Party Politics, Sociological Forum, Election Law Journal, American Politics Research, Political Behavior, Society, and Public Opinion (Opinião Pública).


Graph 5. Number of publications per journal


Source: own elaboration.


Notably, almost a third of the investigations (14) were published in journals focused on gender or women’s studies. These specific spaces for gender debate, as already pointed out by Clara Araújo (1999), may be an indication of the permanence of theghetto characteristicthat feminist studies have in Political Science, in the sense of the slight opening of this research agenda in the more traditional spaces of dissemination of the area.

In this sense, we mention that the institutionalization of feminist and gender studies faces many obstacles in Political Science, almost without these debates in academic research and scientific journals (Matos, 2016). A process of marginal inclusion of these works can be noticed, despite the thematic plurality they present and the approach to fundamental issues, not only for the area but also for society in general (Rezende and Elias, 2021).


3.4. The case studies address the dynamics of funding in which countries?


In total, 14 countries had their electoral dynamics studied. As expected, the claims in the US are the most discussed so far. Next, we have nine investigations that focus on cases in Brazil, three referring to Canada. Moreover, the following countries were the focus of one article: United Kingdom, Israel, Indonesia, Ghana, Cape Green, Belgium, and Germany.

It is interesting to note that this theme is studied in few countries and many of them are in the global North. Both in Latin America and in Africa, only four countries have their dynamics analyzed (Brazil, Chile, Cape Green and Ghana).

Graph 6. Countries analyzed in the surveys


Source: own elaboration.



3.5. What type of research is done?


Regarding the research method used in the corpus, six of the 51 articles used qualitative approaches for the debate. Only three articles present mixed techniques, both using in-depth interviews. All others are quantitative surveys. This is not surprising, given that the theme of electoral financing itself, and the type of data it offers, ends up facilitating the option for these analyses. The graph below shows the main techniques used in the studies.


Graph 7. Techniques most found in scoping review


Source: own elaboration.


Followed by descriptive statistics, which are present in most articles, regressions appear as the most used test, with linear regression using the Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) method having the highest number of cases. A finding that corroborates the research by Krueger and Lewis-Beck (2008). Own elaboration analyzed 1,756 articles published between 1990 and 2005, in the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science and Journal of Politics, and observed that 30.8% of publications use this same type of regression. Other techniques in this survey, but only in one of the works, were: Anova, Tobit model, Linear models with Tweedie distribution, Two-stage regression, Cramer’s V test, Ordinal regression, and Negative binomial regression.


3.6. What is the level of electoral competition analyzed?


The survey shows a clear preference for investigations for national competitions, adding that practically all of these refer to disputes for the National Lower Chambers. Only four articles analyze the national and regional levels. It is interesting to point out that the low number of investigations focusing on regional and local cases is the justification found in all works that propose this type of analysis, which is evident in the graph below.


Graph 8. Articles by analyzed competition level


Source: own elaboration.


3.7. What are the variables listed in the funding process for women, and what are the relationships between them?


Regarding the variables used in the investigations, Graph 9 shows the most frequent ones. By surveying the variables, it is possible to identify a division of these into two large groups. The first seeks to ascertain the effect of gender on the collection and declared expenditures, which from this point on are included in the category “electoral financing”. And the second assesses the effect of electoral financing on the electoral result or the total number of votes received or even chances of election, which are now designated as “electoral performance.” Remembering that the number presented below differs from the total number of productions since many works present more than one model.

Another recurrent relationship between the variables (Table 2) is that in seven cases, gender is chosen as a possible cause of electoral performance and party support. In addition, it has been investigated as an explanation for adopting specific campaign formats, perceptions of election finance, different types of election finance, private finance, corruption, and the gender of people who are part of campaign-giving networks.


                                                                   Graph 9. Variables used in surveys           


Source: own elaboration.


Some surveys seeking to ascertain the effect of electoral financing on electoral performance use gender as a control variable. In addition to it, other variables in this category are: incumbency, political parties and their characteristics such as party strength and ideology, type of dispute (in the US cases: challenger and open-seat), having held a previous political office, having run for office in previous elections, age, occupation, and education. It is important to remember that these variables used in the set works are related to the different electoral systems analyzed that can affect choices in research designs.

Still, regarding the occupation of the position in dispute – incumbencyit is interesting to mention that several works place it as the most crucial factor in the collection, being the variable that most explains a campaign’s revenue and success rates. The analysis of men and women in this group shows that the differences in their electoral dynamics practically disappear. There is evidence, however, that the distance decreases but does not cease to exist even in this situation. That is, “the re-election factor softens the difference between women and men but does not cancel it out” (Sacchet and Speck, 2012: 193) since, in many cases, there is still a female disadvantage in terms of revenue, even among candidates seeking re-election.


Table 2. Relationships between variables


Number of cases

Independent variable

Dependent variable



Election financing


Election financing

Electoral performance



Electoral performance



Electoral performance



Party support



Election financing



Electoral performance


Donor’s gender

Election financing


Public funding

Decision to compete


Party strength

Electoral performance



Election financing


Electoral system

Electoral performance

Source: own elaboration.


Furthermore, the advantage that occupying the position in dispute brings, together with the fact that it is primarily a male advantage, highlights how incumbency is determined by gender. While few women can enjoy the benefits of this party preference, those seeking victory for the first time can be seen as doubly burdened by being women and newcomers. One last mention in this regard is the use of the seniority variable in these analyses of electoral financing and female political participation in only one of the 54 papers, which reinforces how women are rarer in the cases of permanence in these positions.

Thus, the liberal perspective is taken as neutral and universal, a premise that will be criticized by feminist theorists (Fraser, 1992; Pateman, 1993; Mansbridge, 1999; Phillips, 1999) who point out the excluding character of liberal political norms, which are based on cultural patterns specific factors that favor some groups over others. For, even if the way of acting in political spaces is governed by rules considered neutral, as social characteristics are based on gender differences, what passes as neutrality results in preferential treatment for men (Phillips, 1999).

Moving on to the investigations that analyze the effect of gender on electoral financing, 10 of the 20 show no difference between men and women in this process, concluding that this issue does not seem to be responsible for the low female representation in elected positions. However, some warn that to reach this result, women need to work much harder than their male peers. It is necessary to emphasize that nine of these works address the electoral dynamics of the USA, and one, the Irish dynamics.

The other surveys show that there is indeed a female disadvantage in accessing electoral financing. Of them, two are about the US elections, and the others about the Brazilian, Chilean, and Italian elections. Therefore, in this survey, the effect that gender may or may not have on campaign fundraising is inconclusive. Remembering that most investigations that point to the absence of difference between men and women address a type of competition in which, once nominated, the woman starts to represent the party in that district. That is, it is expected that she will receive partisan support. Therefore, the biggest bottleneck women face precedes electoral competition, and these previous stages still need to be investigated.

Another important variable, and also little explored, is race. Only five of the works bring it to the central debate. Moreover, it is interesting to point out that when observing electoral financing addressing racial and gender issues, it is evident that few women have conquered equal access to resources, but not all. When race is disregarded, the electoral finance landscape looks more balanced, particularly in the case of the US. It is worth mentioning that the collection advantage brought by the incumbency to the candidates is restricted to white women. That is yet another example of how thewomengroup has a great diversity that can be easily masked. Therefore, it is evident how much further research of an intersectional nature still needs to be deepened, given the importance of this analysis in the debate on the representation of women and different minority groups in power.

Concerning party ideology, with few exceptions, this variable is discussed mainly in US cases. The studies show that the party with the liberal ideology, the Democratic party, has performed and succeeded more in promoting female political participation compared to the Republican party, which is ideologically conservative.

It is stated that it can be identified, in addition to the gap between men and women, the gap between women Democrats and Republicans in the Lower House. It is worth noting, however, that the participation of the PACs (Political Action Committees) as agents for directing donations to campaigns, especially those aimed at female candidates, such as EMILY’s List, appear as crucial pieces in this process in the Democrat case. In addition, it is also identified that the more liberal the agendas of the competitors, the greater the chances of receiving donations. Finally, the increase in women’s access to campaign resources is still concentrated in white Democratic women. When one observes the situation of “non-whitewomen, one notices that it is even less favorable in the Republican party.

It is worth mentioning that liberalism is read as a current political ideology in the United States, strongly linked to the left of the political spectrum. It has roots in progressive and populist movements in that country. In turn, conservatism, as an ideology, was born as a reaction to liberalism (Vidal, 2021) and can be compared to right-wing parties in the sense of having a more conservative social posture that seeks to maintain traditional values.

In the Brazilian cases, two articles discussed more ideology. One of them, aimed directly at women’s political participation, showed that party ideology did not significantly impact the number of women selected and elected in the 2012 municipal elections. The second, analyzing the dependence on corporate donations by deputies, pointed out that those belonging to right-wing parties have a greater need for this source.

Four articles investigated the extent to which public campaign financing can incentivize greater female political participation. The findings show that the impacts of this measure are still limited. However, there are indications that the possibility of accessing public money in their campaigns makes women more inclined to run for office, primarily if the resource is directly distributed to them. However, adopting this measure may have a more symbolic than practical meaning if it is designed without considering other institutional structures that may reduce or even nullify its effects.

Regarding political parties - and attributes related to them such as party strength, party support, recruitment, party strategies, and ideology – in addition to appearing as one of the most frequent variables in surveys, most of them cite them as central in the debate on participation women’s politics as a whole. They can function as true catalysts for this participation or as barriers that are difficult to overcome. Therefore, understanding party dynamics is crucial in explaining the different scenarios of female representation.



4. Conclusions



The survey in this article showed that, following the trend of general scientific production, publications on the subject analyzed increased over time and have been carried out increasingly in cooperation. Women are the majority of the principal author of these works. However, men generally follow in more significant numbers in the group analysis and present a more constant presence when analyzing the publications by year. The United States of America, and its educational institutions, appear as the most productive poles in this agenda and the most studied case in the investigations. Brazil takes second place in both aspects. Generally, the most analyzed cases of disputes concern the dynamics in the National Lower Houses. Moreover, regarding the means of dissemination, journals focused on discussions on gender or women’s studies are the largest publishers on the subject.

The productions are mainly quantitative regarding the types of research and the most common techniques. They mainly use descriptive statistics and regression tests, especially linear regression with the Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) method. As for the variables that appear in the investigations, gender and electoral performance are the most mobilized, making it possible to identify a division into two large groups: one that assesses the effect of gender financing on electoral performance and another which seeks to ascertain the effect of gender on electoral financing. Regarding the first relationship, it is clear that it exists and that people with greater resource access in campaigns tend to have better electoral performance. As for the second, it was impossible to identify a consensus on whether there is a female disadvantage in accessing electoral financing.

In any case, we must point out that women of all classes and ethnicities have long been excluded from formal political participation. Even with the achievement of suffrage, informal impediments to parity of participation continue (Fraser, 1992). And this is the point highlighted by feminist theorists, that the material and cultural inequalities generated by male domination constitute barriers to democratic political representation (Sanchez, 2017).

In short, electoral financing is approached both as an independent variable, which can explain the electoral performance of men and women and as a dependent variable, that can be explained by the gender of candidates, for example. Regarding the first relationship, based on the surveys analyzed, it is clear that it exists and that people with greater access to resources in campaigns tend to have better electoral performance. Concerning the second, the findings are contradictory, with 50% of the cases showing that gender does not matter in the collection and 50% showing that it does. Remembering that this result may be biased due to the large number of cases that address the same electoral dynamics.

Based on this scoping review, we realized that there are several points to be explored in this research agenda, such as race and party recruitment, for example, since even those that have already been approached many times need new contributions, which help to answer impasses such as the one mentioned in the paragraph above.

Furthermore, we note that only one of the investigations offers a more accurate look at intra-party dynamics, in which the possible effect of the number of women responsible for the political recruitment process, or gatekeepers, and the number of female candidates elected in German parties is investigated (Ruf, 2021). Except for it, the others bring the parties to the debate without addressing the processes within them. That being pointed out and reinforcing that this research addresses the relationship between campaign finance and female political participation, we propose contributing to this discussion by investigating intra-party characteristics and their possible interactions with female access to campaign resources.

Finally, we understand that the scope review technique has limitations as any technique used in scientific research. The works analyzed in this article refer only to the results of searches carried out in selected databases. In other words, it means the possibility that some current research on topics within the area of Political Science may not have been contemplated. Despite this, the results found in this article present an essential temporal panorama of the debate, which does not rule out that the use of mixed methods, mainly in research with a feminist perspective, can deepen the findings by integrating qualitative analyses.





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[1] We used Boolean search resources in the database search, such as the use of the expression between quotation marks to find phrases, expressions or compound nouns, as well as the asterisk that allows finding words with the same semantic root (Saks, 2005).