Measuring Women’s Political Empowerment across the Globe: Strategies, Challenges and Future Research

Catherine Bolzendahl
06.07.2016, GESIS Köln (Konferenzraum Ost), 13:45

Nowhere do women hold equal power to men in influencing and exercising political authority worldwide, though women’s access to political power has increased tremendously. Gains in women’s political empowerment directly decrease the role of gender inequality as an obstacle to political incorporation, and open, rather than close, the political domain to all members of society. Indeed, as the largest group today that worldwide encounters current and historical barriers to political incorporation, women’s political empowerment should be viewed as a fundamental process of transformation for benchmarking and understanding more general political empowerment gains across the globe. Scholars must develop a broader vision of women’s political empowerment, to understand how social constructions of gender influence such outcomes that are relevant to a global scholarly and policy community. We hope to improve our global understanding of women's empowerment through cross-national comparisons, a variety of data types and a synthesis of methodological approaches. In an ongoing collaborative project, we speak directly to these issues and more, utilizing varied levels of politics but also different formal political positions. Our goal is to aid scholars in studying questions related to women’s political empowerment anywhere around the world, or even the whole world at once.

Zur Person
Catherine (Katie) Bolzendahl is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Irvine. Her research stands at the intersection of political sociology and the sociology of gender, and frames gender as a fundamental basis of inequality and source of societal change. Specifically she has examines: 1) The importance of gender equality for welfare state spending and development (e.g., Social Forces, Social Politics, European Sociological Review); 2) Survey based evidence for changing notions of citizenship, political participation and gender inequality (e.g., British Journal of Sociology; Social Science Quarterly; Social Forces); 3) Family as a site of inequality according to gender, political rights and sexual orientation (e.g., ASA Rose Series book Counted Out: Same Sex Relations and Americans’ Definitions of Family). She holds a BA in Sociology and Public Service from the University of Notre Dame, and a PhD in Sociology from Indiana University.