Fulbright-Hays fellowship leads to national dissertation award

Catherine Reyes-Housholder

Catherine Reyes-Housholder, who received her PhD in May from Cornell’s government department, has won the 2017 Best Dissertation Award from the American Political Science Association’s Women and Politics section for her comparative study “Presidentas, Power and Pro-Women Change.”

Reyes-Housholder conducted her fieldwork in Brazil and Chile in 2015 with the support of a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad fellowship administered by the Einaudi Center. She had previously conducted research in Uruguay as a Fulbright undergraduate fellow.

The dissertation looks at how female presidents in Latin America have leveraged their power to advance women’s issues despite the region’s deep gender inequalities.

Reyes-Housholder first met one of her research subjects, former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet, when she came to Cornell as a Bartels World Affairs Fellow in 2012. 

She uses “constituent theory” to compare Bachelet with former Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, concluding that women presidents are most effective at promoting women’s rights if they (1) create a core constituency of women voters and (2) network with “elite feminists” and other female politicians.

Her dissertation committe was Kenneth Roberts (chair), Michael Jones-Correa, Peter Enns, and Leslie Schwindt-Bayer (Rice University).

You can read more about her research at her website

The highly competitive Fulbright-Hays program supports graduate research in other countries in a range of disciplines. Cornell’s Fulbright advisor is emeritus professor Gil Levine.