UCL Institute of the Americas


UCL Institute of the Americas Public Seminar - Why do women run?

06 February 2024, 4:30 pm–6:00 pm

Public Series seminar

Assessing gendered political aspirations and resilience in Brazilian politics, with Political Scientist, Débora Thomé.

This event is free.

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Institute of the Americas

Despite being the majority of the population, in most countries of the world, women continue to be the minority of political officeholders. Even with a gender quota in place for almost 30 years, Brazil remains one of the worst countries in Latin America in this regard. Common sense often attributes the gender gap in political representation to a lack of women’s interest in running for office. As gender scholars have long established, however, the main obstacles to women’s candidacies and elections arise from the lack of support from party leaders. In a context where the chances of success are minimal, women’s low levels of political representation are, perhaps, less surprising than their willingness to run for office amidst precarious conditions. What makes Brazilian women have—and maintain—their political aspirations? We tackle this question through an analysis of roughly 150 interviews with Brazilian candidates in the 2020 and 2022 elections. 


Débora Thomé is a Political Scientist, writer and feminist activist, with research on gender and access to spaces of power, representation, candidates and political ambition, based in Brazil, doing her postdoc in Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV) – São Paulo. She was a visiting scholar at Columbia University and is a lecturer at the Columbia Women's Leadership Network. After a 15-year successful career in journalism, since 2014, she has been working with advocacy, training,and research on women and leadership, both in the private sector, third sector and in politics. She has trained more than 600 women candidates in different Brazilian cities and was also a UN Women Consultant. Thomé has written several books for children and adults concerning gender and politics.