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Latin American Languages and Societies | Political Science | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Women's Studies


Gary Prevost, Political Science


Female legislators are becoming much more common and so are legislative acts focusing on increasing the number of women in elected bodies. These acts are an attempt at creating rules, designed in a positive way, to foster social change and fix one of the most predominant issues in society. A prevalent strategy for greater female representation in decision-making bodies is electoral gender quotas. Electoral gender quotas are one method that attempts to raise the descriptive representation (raw numbers) of women in elected within legislative bodies. These quotas have been enacted around the world beginning in the early 1990s. Because electoral gender quotas have only started becoming more prominent during the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century, research on them has been very limited. This paper hopes to add to the existing research by asking the question: what factors influence the implementation of electoral gender quotas. Under what political circumstances are gender quotas formally adopted by national legislatures? This thesis tackles that question by looking at the region of Latin America and more specifically the case of Mexico. It begins with a numerical analysis of the impact of quotas on Latin American nations as a whole. Many Latin American nations have instituted successful gender quotas and seen a large increase in the proportion of female legislators. Following this analysis is a more in-depth analysis of the factors leading to the passage of a specific gender law, the Mexican quota of 2002, looking specifically at the role of political parties, political culture, and interest groups in motivating a nation to pass a quota. Understanding what factors lead to the passage of gender quotas will not only allow us to better understand the motives of legislative bodies in passing quotas, but also allow us to create environments more accepting of legislated quotas.