Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Political Science


Political Science

Major Professor

Raymond, Chris

Second Advisor

Huelshoff, Michael

Third Advisor

Day, Christine


Since the transitions to democracy in Latin America, women in the region have undergone major changes in their roles in society. From traditionally only present in the home to participating in collective action efforts, and finally participating at increasing numbers in governments, women have made incredible strides in the Latin American region. Latin American countries have successfully advocated for the inclusion of women in government, but few studies in academia focus on determining whether their inclusion has made a difference in government processes or in society. Borrowing from the literature positing that women are behaviorally different from men as well as their identification with motherhood and as wives in their collective action efforts in Latin America, I argue that women have different concerns from men both outside and inside of the public sphere and therefore make a difference in government with regards to policy priorities and government budget allocations. Studying 18 Latin American countries, I find that there is a gender gap in public opinion, which demonstrates that women are more concerned with social welfare matters than men. I also find that female concerns are carried into their behavior once in government as observed by female legislators’ heightened support for social welfare policies. Furthermore, I find that women in legislatures affect government behavior differently from their male counterparts as observed with female legislators’ positive effects on the allocation of the budget towards social welfare areas.


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