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:

“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. This research is focus of my FONDECYT Initiation project:

“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.

“Religion and Affective Polarization in Argentina and Chile” (with Cristian Rodriguez and Andrés González). This research has received funding from Facultad de Gobierno, Universidad de Chile.

Recent research shows an electoral realignment in Latin American countries away from redistributive issues when abortion and same-sex marriage are on the agenda (Smith and Boas 2023). These realignments point to an increased salience and politicization of religious identities. In this paper we analyze the differences in animosity across religious denominations and levels of religiosity – considering evangelicals, Catholics, and the “nones” (atheist, agnostics, and non-affiliated) in Argentina and Chile.

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 AFSEE Program at the International Inequality Institute, London School of Economics and COES.