Women and Globalization-a Study of 180 Countries, 1975-2000

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Forthcoming: International Organization (2006)

Women and Globalization: A Study of 180 Countries, 1975-2000 Mark M. Gray Georgetown University Miki Caul Kittilson Arizona State University Wayne Sandholtz University of California, Irvine

A grant from the Center for Global Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of California, Irvine supported this research. An earlier version of this article was presented at the 2004 Annual Meetings of the American Political Science Association. The authors are grateful for constructive comments from participants in the faculty research colloquium of the Department of Political Science at Brigham Young University, and for the helpful suggestions of the editor of IO, Lisa Martin, and two anonymous reviewers.

Abstract

Women and Globalization: A Study of 180 Countries, 1975-2000 Mark M. Gray, Miki Caul Kittilson, and Wayne Sandholtz

How do rising levels of international interconnectedness affect social, economic, and political conditions for women? Research on gender and international relations frequently offers clear propositions, but seldom submits them to broad, quantitative testing. This paper begins to fill that gap. We advance the hypothesis that, on balance and over time, increasing cross-national exchange and communication lead to improvements in women’s status and equality. Economic aspects of globalization can bring new opportunities and resources to women. But equally important, globalization promotes the diffusion of ideas and norms of equality for women. In an analysis of 180 countries from 1975-2000, utilizing cross-sectional time-series regression techniques, we examine the impact of several measures of globalization on women’s levels of life expectancy, literacy, and participation in the economy and parliamentary office. International trade, foreign direct investment, membership in the UN and World Bank, and ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), are associated with improved conditions for women.

Women and Globalization: A Study of 180 Countries, 1975-2000 How do rising levels of international interconnectedness affect the social, economic, and political conditions for women? Competing hypotheses are easy to identify. Indeed, research on gender and international relations sometimes offers clear propositions, but seldom submits them to broad, quantitative testing. This paper begins to fill that gap. We expect to find a considerably mixed picture: some women will benefit from globalization and some will be hurt; the status of women will improve in some respects but not others. Nevertheless, we advance the hypothesis that, on balance and over time, increasing cross-national exchange and communication lead to improvements in women’s status and equality.1 We argue that both economic factors and ideational or normative effects support that proposition. Economic aspects of globalization bring new opportunities and resources to women. But equally important, globalization promotes the diffusion of ideas and norms of equality for women; though some societies resist such notions, others gradually abandon rules and practices that have functioned to subordinate and constrain women. Why should a study focus on the effects of globalization for women, and not for other groups of people? First, in assessing the condition of women, we take seriously the basic insight of feminist and gender analysis approaches, that the absence of gender in theoretical and empirical research leads to distortion, or even blindness, with respect to ubiquitous social and political phenomena. Second, we note that gender is one of the few modes of differentiation that has social, cultural, political, and economic

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We give careful consideration to our choice of terms “status” and “conditions for women” here.

Although these terms may connote a passive role for women, we recognize that women actively shape their...
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