Women’s participation and challenges to the liberal script: A global perspective

Julia C. Lerch, Evan Schofer, David John Frank, Wesley Longhofer, Francisco O. Ramirez, Christine Min Wotipka, Kristopher Velasco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Existing scholarship documents large worldwide increases in women’s participation in the public sphere over recent decades, for example, in education, politics, and the labor force. Some scholars have argued that these changes follow broader trends in world society, especially its growing liberalism, which increasingly has reconfigured social life around the choices of empowered and rights-bearing individuals, regardless of gender. Very recently, however, a variety of populisms and nationalisms have emerged to present alternatives to liberalism, including in the international arena. We explore here their implications for women’s participation in public life. We use cross-national data to analyze changes in women’s participation in higher education, the polity, and the economy 1970–2017. We find that women’s participation on average continues to expand over this period, but there is evidence of a growing cross-national divergence. In most domains, women’s participation tends to be lower in countries linked to illiberal international organizations, especially in the recent-most period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)305-329
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Sociology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


  • Gender equality
  • liberalism
  • women’s rights
  • world society


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