Does Women’s Political Presence Matter? Examining the Effects of Descriptive Representation on Symbolic Representation in Uruguay

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April 28, 2017

Does Women’s Political Presence Matter? Examining the Effects of Descriptive Representation on Symbolic Representation in Uruguay

The research presented in this paper provides useful insights into how increasing women’s descriptive representation within a legislature affects citizens’ interest and engagement in the political process, or their symbolic representation. Uruguay’s first quota law was implemented in the 2014 elections, resulting in significant increases in the number of women serving in both houses of Uruguay’s Parliament. Surveying citizens before and after the elections, the research team found strong evidence that increases in women’s descriptive representation had a positive effect on citizens’ symbolic representation, and that this effect was stronger for women than for men. Before election day, women were significantly less likely than men to say they were interested in politics, less likely to state that they understood political issues in Uruguay, and less likely to report having trust in elections; after election day, these differences disappeared and women were as likely as men to be interested in politics, understand current political issues, and trust the electoral process.

This publication was produced by USAID in partnership with Arizona State University and the Institute of International Education as part of the Research and Innovation Grants Working Papers Series.

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Resource type: 
Region: 
Author: 
Magda Hinojosa, Kim Fridkin, and Miki Kittilson
Editor: 
Arizona State University
Publisher: 
USAID
Publication year: 
March 2017
Focus areas: