Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Croft Institute for International Studies

First Advisor

Miguel Centellas

Relational Format



Given recent political tension between political parties in both the United States and Argentina, there has been an increased demand for improved and more accurate congressional representation, specifically women's substantive representation in Congress. As the first nation to institute a legislative candidate gender quota law, Argentina has been the leading Latin American nation to confront anti-feminist politics. Under the cupo de ley femenino, the quota mandate of 1991, all major political parties and certain governments cabinets in Argentina are required to fill a set thirty percent of positions on party candidate lists with women (Ley No 24.012). Whereas in the United States, there is no requirement for representation by gender, and as of 2016 women occupied twenty percent of each congressional house. Researchers have presented new and debated theories regarding the quality of congresswomen's representation in various government systems following the introduction of quota laws around the world. Although Argentine female politicians fill a third of seats in both lower and upper congressional houses, they are often perceived as political pawns to male party leaders who seek total obedience from women whom they would not have otherwise elected (Zetterberg). In the United States, researchers are concerned by women's legislative impact as a marginalized minority. In this thesis I examine whether or not these contrasting systems in the US and Argentina achieve similar feminist progress through increased representation over the past thirty years. Just like Aesop's fable The Tortoise and the Hare, I hypothesize that through its quota laws, Argentina has made great strides by introducing the cupo de ley, however has since stopped its progress. In contrast, I expect the United States to make steady, but sluggish (or rather tortoise-like) advancement of women's representation. I will then use these findings to answer the question: in the race to gender equality in politics, who will win?


A thesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for completion of the Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies from the Croft Institute for International Studies and the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.

Included in

Sociology Commons



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