This week, Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez made history by appointing 11 female cabinet members, out of 16. The country’s new Socialist government is the first to boast a cabinet of more women than men.

Socialist spokesman Ander Gil told reporters that the cabinet configuration “complies with the word given by the prime minister, with women and men with long and prestigious careers.”

“This is a responsible government that represents very well the talent and the future of Spain,” he told La Sexta TV.

Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez named 11 women to top posts including defense and economy in a cabinet with six male ministers. That makes it the European government with the highest ratio of female cabinet ministers, ahead of Sweden's, which has 12 women and 11 men. (Javier Soriano/AFP/Getty)
Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez named 11 women to top posts including defense and economy in a cabinet with six male ministers. That makes it the European government with the highest ratio of female cabinet ministers, ahead of Sweden's, which has 12 women and 11 men. (Javier Soriano/AFP/Getty)

Sánchez’s cabinet is unusual in Spain and around the world. Here’s why:

Women hold just 23 percent of the seats in national parliaments, up from 11 percent in 1995.

• According to a 2017 United Nations study, women make up less than 10 percent of elected parliaments in nearly 40 percent of countries.

• In four countries, no women hold national office.

• There are fewer than 30 female heads of state and heads of government, and women don’t fare any better when it comes to cabinet positions. In 2017, 18 percent of all cabinet ministers were women.

This phenomenon also plays out in the United States where female representation is lacking across the board. More than 100 countries have more women in their legislatures than the U.S. One challenge is that the U.S. boasts relatively strong incumbency rates. Nearly 90 percent of congressmen run for reelection, and nearly all of them win — meaning it’s harder to replace men with women.

As Vox explained citing research from the Inter-Parliamentary Union American women are less likely to run for office than women in other countries:

Women consistently underestimated their qualifications and perceived themselves differently than men who had nearly identical credentials. Women were also more likely to perceive campaigning as harder and were less likely to have anyone — whether a friend or a party official — encourage them to pursue political office. Perhaps the biggest takeaway from Lawless and Fox’s study is this: Potential women candidates were 15 times more likely than men to be responsible for the majority of child care, and six times more likely to manage most housework. With those kinds of obligations, who has the time to run for office?

Twenty-two percent of Trump’s senior-level Cabinet jobs are held by women, which is a slight departure from the Cabinet of President Barack Obama, where one-third of those seats were filled by women.

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