Browsing Government & Politics Theses and Dissertations by Author "Balf, Noa"
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ItemThe Policy We Can Get: Seniority, Authority, and Gender Legislation in Israel and Argentina(2019) Balf, Noa; Calvo, Ernesto; Government and Politics; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)Most explanations for women politicians’ legislative agendas and their choice to represent women rely on assumptions about their individual policy preferences. Even research exploring policy variation among women assumes that it is best explained by ideological differences on the left-right political spectrum. Through a comparative case study of Israel and Argentina I show that the pursuit of gender legislation is more a function of constraints and strategic choices than policy preferences. Argentina and Israel are representative of the two main types of country cases used in the gender and politics literature – Argentina has institutionalized women’s presence in the legislature, and Israel has not. This crucial difference supports the generalizability of my findings. Drawing on field work in Israel combined with cross national statistical analyses, I argue that as women gain access to powerful positions within the legislature we will observe changes in their legislative agenda. I assume that in order to advance or succeed in politics, women will endeavor to mimic men’s behavior. However, in the Argentinian and Israeli cases the picture that emerges is quite different. I find that policy variation among women generally, and the choice to advocate for gender-related legislation specifically, is driven by the degree of institutional marginalization women experience. While women may want to behave like their male colleagues as they gain seniority and enter positions of authority in the legislature, they face particular instrumental constraints. As a result, though we may expect women to expand their legislative agenda and effectively cease to advocate for niche issues like women’s issues, instead I find that they are unable to do so. Marginalization within the legislature both in Israel and Argentina causes women to maintain a certain degree of commitment to women’s issues. While in the Israeli case, the extreme marginalization of women in the legislature results in women exclusively working on gender-related policy, in Argentina, due to the normalization of women’s presence in the legislature, I observe women legislators broadening their policy scope beyond women’s issues. This work is a significant contribution to the representation literature as it provides a clear and intuitive explanation for policy outcomes for historically marginalized communities. The larger implication of this work is that the normalization of increased descriptive representation for historically marginalized communities decreases the likelihood for large-scale social change.