Current research

Within the broad frame of political inclusion, incorporation, and democracy, I am currently pursuing three lines of research.

1) Women’s suffrage and political incorporation

This line continues my dissertation research on democratization and women’s suffrage and extends it to women’s early political participation and representation through my FONDECYT postdoctoral project:

“Democratization and Inclusion: What Women’s Participation Tells Us About the Second Wave of Democracy,” presented at Oxford’s The Second Short Wave of Democratization in Latin America Conference, June 2021.

Most Latin American countries enfranchised women during the second wave of democracy. But how did this expansion of participation relate to other dimensions of democracy? In this article, I use Robert Dahl’s two dimensions of democracy and evaluate what women’s inclusion tells us about democratization during this period.

“The Historical Gender Gap in Turnout in Latin America,” presented at the Suffrage Now Conference and APSA 2021.

General trends on the evolution of the gender gap – both in Latin American and other regions – indicate that women’s initial participation after enfranchisement was relatively low, that it eventually equalized with that of men, and that in recent decades there is even a slightly higher rate of turnout among women. Nonetheless, we know very little about the speed and rates at which women were incorporated into the electorate and the variations between countries. Using fragmented existing data and ecological inference techniques, the project seeks to reconstruct women’s incorporation and the factors that explain variations in time and across countries.

“Understanding Early Women’s Representation,” presented at LASA 2022. Received a 2021 APSA Women, Gender, and Politics Section Small Grant Award to aid with data collection.

Following women’s enfranchisement, the percentage of women in the lower chamber remained below 10% (except for Argentina’s first post-suffrage election, where women reached 15% of the lower chamber). Beyond the common low number of elected women, we know little from a comparative perspective about who these women were and what parties they represented. This paper will first present a description of women in the legislature in 19 Latin American countries, from the moment of enfranchisement until the breakdown of democracy (or the end of the 1970s) and then zoom in on some political parties as the main gatekeepers of candidate nomination.

2) Religion and politics

In the area of religion and politics, I am interested in understanding the current wave of religious-based social and political mobilization in Latin America, in historical and comparative perspective.

“The Gender Dimension of Religious Mobilization in Latin America” (with Camilla Reuterswärd).

In this paper we ask when do conservative women mobilize in defense of religion. We compare two junctures when religion has been politicized in Latin America, sparking the mobilization of conservative women: late nineteenth and early twentieth century with the process of secularization, and early twenty-first century, with the advancement of feminist agendas and the consequent conservative reaction. We claim that comparing these two junctures allows observing common a mechanism of conservative women as an attractive constituency for political parties.

“A New Religious Cleavage? Chile in Comparative Perspective.” This research has received funding from the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.

Chilean evangelicals have had growing protagonism in politics over the last decade, as expressed in a growing number of evangelical candidates, a more clearly identifiable “evangelical vote” for some candidates, and civil society organizations that have emerged in defense of the traditional family and values. Do these signs of a growing politicization translate into identifiable political preferences in the evangelical population more broadly? And how do Chilean evangelicals compare to other Latin American countries?

3) Gender and feminism in contemporary politics

“The Effects of Feminist Protests on Gender Attitudes in Chile” (with Carolina Acevedo de la HarpeRodolfo Disi Pavlic, and Felipe Sánchez).

Funded by a mini-COES, using protest data from the Observatory of Conflicts and COES’ longitudinal national survey, using a DiD design we estimate the effects of geographic and temporal proximity to protests during the recent wave of feminist mobilization in Chile on gender-related attitudes.

“Conflicted identities for social justice? Exploring Female Economic and Political Elites in Chile and the UK” (with Catherine Reyes-Housholder, Rachel Theodore and a UK team). Funded by the International Inequality Institute, London School of Economics and COES.