Maria Luiza Gatto is a postdoctoral researcher (Oberassistentin) at the Department of Political Science of the University of Zurich and a member of the Latin American Center. Previously, Gatto was at the Department of Politics and International Relations of the University of Oxford, where she completed her PhD (DPhil). 

Gatto’s current book project tackles the puzzle of why male-dominated legislatures adopt gender quotas and offers the first theory and analysis of gender quota adoptions centered around the behavior of male legislators.

More generally, Gatto’s work explores questions about the gendered dynamics of political behavior, representation, and policy-making with a regional focus in Latin America, especially Brazil. For instance, she is currently developing projects on the impact of Dilma Rousseff's impeachment to the perception of women in politics in Brazil; the ways in informal recruitment and appointment practices affect women's political presence; and, the gendered consequences of political dynasties.

Project Summary

The dominance of “de facto nobilities” in democratic systems is often associated with their access to networks and contacts; insider know-how; accumulation of material resources; and notoriety. The interaction between elite network membership and representation is thus not clear-cut: being associated with elite networks may give women the access to the political capital they on average lack; meanwhile, the prevalence of dominant groups with disproportional resources may put women without such links at a greater competitive disadvantage. Yet, at a time in which traditional elites are distrusted, women with longstanding political careers may be reprimanded for their network memberships, while women without such ties may gain the motivation and space to run for office. Employing a multi-method design, the project seeks to provide the first study of the changing dynamics of the relationship between elite network membership and women’s political representation in the United States and Brazil.