Gatekeepers to power : party-level influences on women's political participation in Latin America
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Georgetown University, 2010.; Includes bibliographical references.; Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format. As the main gatekeepers to power, political parties play a central role in determining the number of women in Congress given their role in recruiting and selecting candidates for decision-making positions. While political parties are powerful institutions that influence the composition of Congress, parties are also constrained and shaped by the institutional context in which they operate. Borrowing elements from the new institutionalist approach, this dissertation addresses how gender interacts with institutions to shape and influence political outcomes. It asks not only how parties shape political outcomes (i.e., the number of women in elected positions) but also, how the institutional context shapes party behavior toward women's political participation. Finally, it also examines the role women's agency plays in influencing party behavior. The analysis draws on data from 92 political parties in Latin America with the highest levels of representation in Congress to develop a causal model that seeks to explain the share of women in elected office. Three OLS models are developed and linked in a chain of causality to explain variation in the proportion of women: i) in decision-making bodies within the party; ii) fielded as candidates; and iii) elected to public office. The main findings include: i) women's underrepresentation in elected office is a direct result of their underrepresentation in candidate lists; ii) national quota laws with effective sanctions trump party characteristics in determining the share of female legislative candidates fielded by parties; iii) national quota laws increase women's representation through their direct effect on both the share of women nominated and women elected; and iv) women within party structures play a limited role in determining the share of women candidates fielded by parties or elected to public office.
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