Seeing Women, Strengthening Democracy: How Women in Politics Foster Connected Citizens

Research output: Book/ReportBook

14 Scopus citations


How does the more equitable representation of women in positions of power affect male and female citizens? We argue that the election of women to political office-particularly where women’s presence is highly visible to the public-strengthens the connections between women and the democratic process. For women, seeing more “people like me” in politics changes attitudes and orientations toward the democratic process. Substantial variation persists across Latin America in gender gaps in political engagement and political support. To assess the effects that women’s officeholding has on these, we pair comparative survey data from Latin American countries with case study evidence from Uruguay. The Uruguayan case offers a unique laboratory for testing the impact of women’s representation in elected positions of power on political engagement and support. Our panel survey of Uruguayan citizens reveals that the expected gender gaps in political knowledge, political interest, and other forms of political engagement were alive and well six weeks before the elections. Yet, just six weeks following the election-after the use of a gender quota had led to a doubling of women’s representation in the Senate-those gender gaps had largely disappeared or had significantly waned. Our findings indicate that far-reaching gender gaps can be overcome by more equitable representation in our political institutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages168
ISBN (Electronic)9780197526941
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021


  • Descriptive representation
  • Gender quota
  • Symbolic representation
  • Women and politics
  • Women legislators

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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