This European Research Council-funded research programme (2012 to 2017) aimed to improve understanding of the gender dynamics of institutional change and reform.
Understanding how institutions work is a priority for all, whether they are academics, politicians or policy-makers. It is particularly important if we want to change institutions or understand why attempts to reform institutions have not worked. It is also significant for gender equity.
There have been big changes in recent years in the position of women. But many institutions – such as the judiciary, parliaments and governments – are still male-dominated, despite efforts to change this situation. This project has examined some of these efforts to change institutions and has tried to explain their outcomes.
• Prof Georgina Waylen - Principal Investigator and Professor Politics
• Prof Francesca Gains - Co-investigator and Professor of Public Policy
• Dr Faith Armitage - Research Associate
• Leah Culhane - PhD Student
• Lisa Jenkins - Project Coordinator
• Dr Rachel Johnson - Research Associate
• Dr Laura McLeod - Research Associate
• Carmen Sepulveda - Research Associate
• Prof Louise Chappell, UNSW
• Prof Vivien Lowndes, University of Birmingham
• Prof Fiona Mackay, University of Edinburgh
UK advisory team
• Prof Claire Annesley - Professor of Politics and Head of Politics (The University of Sussex)
• Prof Sarah Childs - Professor of Politics and Gender (University of Bristol)
• Prof Colin Hay - Professor of Political Analysis (University of Sheffield)
• Prof Joni Lovenduski - Anniversary Professor of Politics (Birkbeck College)
• Prof Paul Martin - Ethics Adviser and Professor of Sociology (University of Sheffield)
• Prof Janet Newman - Emeritus Professor of Social Policy and Criminology (The Open University)
• Prof Shirin Rai - Professor of Politics and International Studies (University of Warwick)
International advisory team
• Prof Anne-Marie Goetz - Professor at the Center of Global Affairs (New York University)
• Prof Shireen Hassim - Professor of Politics (University of Witwatersrand)
• Prof James Mahoney - Professor of Sociology and Political Science (Northwestern University)
• Prof Fionnuala Ni Aoláin - Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Transitional Justice Institute (the University of Ulster and Minnesota Law School)
• Prof Marcela Rios Tobar - UNDP – Chile and Diego Portales
• Prof Vivien Schmidt - Jean Monnet Chair of European Integration and Professor of Political Science (Boston University)
• Prof Sven Steinmo - Professor of Public Policy and Political Economy (European University Institute)
• Prof Kathleen Thelen - Ford Professor of Political Science (MIT)
• Prof Mieke Verloo - Professor of Comparative Politics and Equality Issues (Radboud University, Nijmegen)
This programme aims to improve our understanding of the gender dynamics of institutional change and reform.
Understanding how institutions work is an important priority for all, whether they are academics, politicians or policy-makers. It is particularly important if we want to change institutions or understand why attempts to change and reform institutions have not worked as well as had been hoped.
It is also significant for gender equity. There have been big changes in recent years in the position of women. But many institutions – such as the judiciary, parliaments and governments - are still male-dominated, despite efforts to change this situation.
This research examines some of these efforts to change institutions and try to explain their outcomes. To do this, it looks at the formal changes in rules and structures and the informal norms and practices that may have an impact (both positively and negatively) on attempts to change institutions.
It looks specifically at:
• Institutional displacement: The creation of new institutions (often at the same time as old ones are swept away).
• Institutional layering: Cases where new institutions have been added on to existing ones – so that new and old institutions co-exist together, for example, new state agencies.
• Institutional conversion: Cases where actors attempt to reform institutions from the inside using the existing rules and norms so that existing institutions act in different ways.
• The research aims to improve our understanding of processes of institutional design and reform and to be of use to academics and those involved in creating and changing institutions.
Methodology and approach
The project investigates empirically five examples of different forms of institutional creation, continuity and change using an approach informed by New Institutionalist and gender scholarship (including feminist institutionalist work).
The five have been chosen to provide contrasting cases in different institutional arenas and at different levels, including single case and cross-national comparison. The research uses a range of methods including quantitative statistical analysis, semi-structured elite interviews with key informants, participant observation, and the analysis of primary and secondary literature.
Book: 'Gender, Institutions and Change in Bachelet's Chile', edited by Georgina Waylen
Michele Bachelet, Chile's first female president, was elected in 2006 with an explicit gender agenda, promising to appoint new faces (including women) to her government and implement some positive gender change. After a period as the first head of UN Women, she was subsequently re-elected for a second term in 2013 with a decisive majority.
This volume focuses on Bachelet's efforts in both her first and second administrations to introduce progressive measures in Chile and the constraints that she has faced in a context where both formal and informal political institutions can act as barriers to change.
Written by leading experts in the field, the chapters highlight both the successes of Bachelet's governments and also the key battles that Bachelet faced, for example with regard to reproductive rights, electoral reform, and social protection.
• "This book assembles original essays from leading scholars to explore the gendered continuities and changes in political leadership dynamics and policy reforms across Michelle Bachelet's two presidencies." Mona Lena Krook (Rutgers University, USA)
• "This volume provides nuanced analysis of Bachelet's governments' efforts to promote women and women's interests, and assesses impediments Bachelet and her team encountered due to Chile's formal institutions and informal norms or governing." Michelle M. Taylor Robinson (Texas A&M University, USA)
• Gendering Politics, Institutions and the Executive: Bachelet in Context - Georgina Waylen
• Bachelet is Back: Reform Prospects and the Future of Democracy in Chile - Peter M. Siavelis
• Disrupting Informal Institutions? Cabinet Formation in Chile in 2006 and 2014 Susan Franceschet
• Promoting Gender Equality: Michelle Bachelet and Formal and Informal Institutional Change within the Chilean Presidency - Gwynn Thomas
• Opportunities and Constraints on Gender-Egalitarian Policy Change: Michelle Bachelet's Social Protection Agenda (2006-2010) - Silke Staab
• Institutional Constraints to Engendering the Health Sector in Bachelet's Chile - Jasmine Gideon and Gabriela Alvarez Minte
• Formal and Informal Institutional Challenges to Women's Reproductive Rights: Emergency Contraception and the Constitutional Tribunal in Chile - Carmen Sepulveda-Zelaya
• Comparing Michelle Bachelet's Two Presidencies: Continuity or Change? - Georgina Waylen