WAPPP Seminar Series: How Women Win the (Latin American) Presidency

Date: 

Thursday, April 1, 2021, 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Location: 

Hosted Online

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Catherine Reyes-Housholder | Assistant Professor at the Instituto de Ciencia Política of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

The presidency stands out as one of the most powerful and male-dominated political offices in the world. How do women democratically win presidential elections? Women in Latin America triumphed seven times from 2006-14 by running as candidates of incumbent parties or running for re-election themselves, feats that defy conventional wisdom on gender and executive politics.


Drawing on fieldwork from fieldwork from Chile, Brazil, and Paraguay, Reyes-Housholder sketches out a theory to account for first-time female presidential victories. Women’s relative strengths as presidential contenders include their ability to signal novelty, “feminine” leadership, and moral integrity; as a result, incumbent parties can perceive incentives to compensate for their weaknesses by nominating female presidential candidates. However, to win, these women must outperform their male counterparts on these desirable traits both at the party nomination stage as well as in the general election.

Catherine Reyes-Housholder is an Assistant Professor at the Instituto de Ciencia Política of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. She is currently writing a book on how women win presidential elections in Latin America. Her research on the presidency and gender has been published in journals such as Comparative Politics, Political Research Quarterly, Electoral Studies, Latin American Politics & Society, Journal of Politics in Latin America, and the Revista de Ciencia Política. She also has published several chapters in edited volumes. Her work is supported by the Centre for Social Conflict and Cohesion Studies (COES) in Chile through the ANID/FONDAP/15130009 grant as well as Fondecyt grant #3190196.