Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Political Science


Political Science

First Advisor

Gang Guo

Second Advisor

Jeffrey Jackson

Third Advisor

Richard Forgette

Relational Format



The number of women in Latin American governments has significantly increased throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. However, women are still significantly poorer, less educated, and more prone to disease and death than their male counterparts. If women's representation is improving, why has their quality of life remained the same? Using quantitative methods and a sample of 18 Latin American countries over a time span of twenty years, this work evaluates the possible affects electoral, political party, and quota law institutions may have on the substantive representation of women. The findings support what is assumed in extant literature; the level of women's descriptive representation best predicts the level of women's substantive representation in Latin America. Electoral, party, and quota law institutions are important but they do not appear to be as vital to SRW as is DRW. The findings further suggest that micro-measures of SRW need to be produced in order to better evaluate the effects of policy on women's lives. Finally, it is noted that theories of legislative marginalization and critical mass should be explored as they may better inform the structure of future works on SRW.



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