Women on the Sidelines: Women’s Representation on Committees in Latin American Legislatures

Authored by: Roseanna Michelle Heath, Leslie A. Schwindt-Bayer and Michelle M. Taylor-Robinson

Categories: Statebuilding
Sub-Categories: Democratization and Political Participation
Region: Latin America and the Caribbean
Year: 2005
Citation: Heath, Roseanna Michelle, Leslie A. Schwindt-Bayer, and Michelle M. Taylor-Robinson. "Women on the Sidelines: Women's Representation on Committees in Latin American Legislatures." American Journal of Political Science 49, no. 2 (2005): 420-36.

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This article explores how new groups can be marginalized after they gain representation in the legislature. We use data from six Latin American legislatures to examine the effect of institutional and political factors on how traditionally dominant male political leaders distribute scarce political resources-committee assignments-to female newcomers. In general, we find that women tend to be isolated on women’s issues and social issues committees and kept off of power and economics/foreign affairs committees as the percentage of legislators who are women increases, when party leaders or chamber presidents control committee assignments, and when the structure of the committee system provides a specific committee to deal with women’s issues. Thus, to achieve full incorporation into the legislative arena, newcomers must do more than just win seats. They must change the institutions that allow the traditionally dominant group to hoard scarce political resources.