Why Women Still Don’t Win Elections as Often as Men in Canada


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Why Women Still Don’t Win Elections as Often as Men in Canada
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Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)/Société Radio-Canada

Women were given the right to run as candidates in federal elections in 1920, yet they are still underrepresented. Valerie Ouellet and Naël Shiab, two data journalists from CBC/Radio-Canada, used several open datasets to understand why. They found that women are more likely than men to find themselves running in hard-to-win ridings and to get less financial support

They used open data from Parlinfo to do a gender-based analysis of election results for 3,882 candidates who ran for the country’s biggest political parties in the 2008, 2011 and 2015 federal general elections.

These data journalists also analyzed financial filings submitted by candidates to Elections Canada by coding a computer program. They then matched each financial report with the candidate’s election results

Additionally, to determine if a riding was won in the past, they needed to match former ridings to the new electoral map, as it had changed throughout the years. They used Elections Canada electoral maps data to do so. They were able to match 291 ridings with their equivalent in the old electoral map this way.

The resulting publication is a project with two data visualizations, including a gender analysis of candidates who ran in the 2008, 2011, and 2015 federal general elections, as well as for each biggest political parties in Canada. This publication also includes an interactive element which provides a gender analysis of a specific riding based on an individual’s postal code.


Ms. Ouellet and Mr. Shiab used open data to raise awareness amongst Canadians on the underrepresentation of women candidates during elections. Through data visualization, these data journalists enable others to easily see trends for Canada’s biggest political parties and identify areas of improvements to ensure a more balanced group of elected officials moving forward.


A flow chart where each circle represents one percent of the candidates who ran in the past three federal general elections. The chart begins by showing that across the last three federal general elections, parties recruited twice as many men as women.The chart then shows how men and women are divided in stronghold ridings which are constituencies where a party has won the two previous elections with a margin of at least 10 per cent of votes. The chart shows that there are four times more men than women in stronghold ridings. The chart finishes by showing how in other ridings, 8 out of 10 candidates lose despite their gender but only 24% of women are elected despite representing 32% while 76% of men are elected despite representing 68% of candidates.


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