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The Impacts of Activism: Women's Social Movement Organizations and Parliamentary Representation

Duncan, Brittany J (2011) The Impacts of Activism: Women's Social Movement Organizations and Parliamentary Representation. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Women's movements - both domestic and international - have made enormous political gainsjust in the past century. Gender inequality persists, however, in institutionalized politics around the world. The proportion of women in national legislatures or parliaments serves as a useful indicator and basis for cross-national comparison of political, as well as social, (in)equality; numerous scholars have offered explanations for the relative lack of women's political representation in parliaments and for the global differences in that representation. This field, however, has not fully analyzed women's social movements as factor increasing women's legislative presence. Likewise, social movement theory, although it has often grappled with operationalizing movement outcomes, has not fully addressed outcomes that are both politicaland cultural, as is women's political representation. Using data from women's organizations that are registered with the United Nations, this paper employs OLS multiple regression to analyze the effect of women's social movement organizing on the percentage of women in parliament, using a sample of countries from around the world. Location in Scandinavia and national quota threshold are consistently significant factors, which supports previous research. Although organizations are not initially a strong explanatory factor for the proportion of women in politics, interactions between organizations and civil liberties, GDP, and the regions of sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern Europe are significant variables. This study finds that the presence of women's organizations lessens and can even reverse the negative relationship between civil liberties and percent female legislators. GDP and women's political representation are positively related, but the presence of women's organizations increases the strength of the relationship, where even a small increase in GDP leads to substantial gains in women's political representation. Past research has found that countries in sub-Saharan Africa often have higher proportions of female legislators, and that finding is borne out here; women's organizations, however, actually moderate that relationship, such that African women's organizing is negatively associated with political representation. Finally, this paper finds that, although Eastern Europe is negatively associated with women's political representation, the presence of women's organizations attenuates that relationship.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Duncan, Brittany Jbjd42@pitt.eduBJD42
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBlee, Kathleenkblee@pitt.eduKBLEE
Committee CoChairHughes, Melaniehughesm@pitt.eduHUGHESM
Committee MemberKutz-Flamenbaum, Rachelrflamenb@pitt.eduRFLAMENB
Date: 6 June 2011
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 14 April 2011
Approval Date: 6 June 2011
Submission Date: 21 April 2011
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Sociology
Degree: MA - Master of Arts
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: macrocomparative; quantitative; women in politics
Other ID:, etd-04212011-151819
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:40
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:41


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