Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Priscilla Lambert

Second Advisor

Dr.Mahendra Lawoti

Third Advisor

Dr.Druscilla Scribner

Fourth Advisor

Dr.Jim Butterfield


Gender quotas, women’s substantive representation, outcomes for women, Dominican Republic quotas, women and politics, quotas and representation


Although women's political representation has increased during the first part of the twenty-first century, the number of female politicians in legislative assemblies worldwide remains low. When well-designed and enforced, gender quota laws can increase women's representation. In tum, the election of female politicians brings about better outcomes for women. Further, female politicians elected by quota are likely to feel more committed to representing women than counterparts elected without quotas. This study tests whether and how quota-elected women can represent women's interests better than men and women elected without quotas. Using the rare natural experiment of the Dominican Republic's Congress and local governments, I compare male and female politicians and quota-elected women with women elected without quotas. I analyzed elected officials' attitudes and behavior toward representing women's interests using a mixed-methods research design. I found strong evidence to confirm that men and women have different attitudes and act differently regarding women's issues. However, the difference between quota-elected women and women elected without quotas is more nuanced.

This dissertation's findings show that women's interests are better represented when female politicians, especially those elected by quotas, are part of the decision-making process in the Dominican Republic's Congress and local governments. Gender quota laws are an excellent tool to increase women's representation and enhance the quota of such representation.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access