Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Afsaneh Nahavandi, Ph.D.; Iris Engstrand, Ph.D.; Lea Hubbard, Ph.D.


Culture, Gender equality, Machismo, Mexico, Politics, Women


The constant changes that occur in a globalized world have pushed gender equality to the forefront of many debates in the western world. Nevertheless, cultural values continue to influence the way in which governments, societies, and individuals behave in regard to the roles that men and women play. In Mexico, despite the cultural values that are embedded in society, women have been able to succeed in areas where, until a few decades ago, it would have been unimaginable. During the last forty years, the Mexican government has gone through a gradual transformation that has allowed women to become an active part of the political arena. Nevertheless, the path continues to be arduous, as deep-seated social values and prejudices still influence the thoughts of many individuals.

Few studies have specifically addressed the involvement of women in Mexican history and politics, especially using first-hand accounts. This study aims to fill that gap and help understand the importance of the involvement of women throughout the history of Mexico, and offer a privileged insight to their lives and experiences. To do so, twelve women who have actively participated in Mexican politics through direct appointment, elections, activism, and academia were interviewed. While the sample is small, these twelve women are part of a very small and select group of female political leaders in Mexico, which include former first ladies, ministers of the Supreme Court, senators, congresswomen, ambassadors, members of different presidential cabinets, academicians, and activists.

The common themes that the women interviewed discussed were culture and prejudice, the role of traits in leadership, gender quotas, the role of first ladies, the importance of political parties, and the possibility of having a female president. None of the leaders identified as politicians first; rather, they saw their family as a primary focus.

This research gives a limited but rich and useful journalistic perspective on the careers of women who have helped shape contemporary Mexico. While the small convenience sample provides a limitation to generalizing the results, the women interviewed are all key leaders in Mexican politics and their experiences can inform the role and impact of women in Mexico.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies