Yarkoney Sorek, Ayala (2018-12). Leaders' Gender and State Conflict. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • Though women make up half of the world's population, their numbers lag in top political leadership positions. Though it is common for women to compete for and win political posts, only 38% of the world's countries have had a woman head of state in the last 50 years. In my dissertation, I investigate the heretofore unexamined roots of the following phenomenon: the connection between internal and external security threats and the absence of women in top leadership positions. I shed light on the barriers to the promotion of women. This dissertation analyzes the role of women during periods of negotiations for peace and how they distinguish themselves during those times. Existing literature about women and politics describes the institutional, partisan and political factors which hold women back from top leadership political positions, while ignoring the impact of security issues on their advancement. It is my contention that the inclusion of the security factor is relevant in light of the tensions and fears which rise to the surface during uncertain times and the stereotypes this atmosphere reinforces. I research how the public views women leaders during periods of international conflict, and security threats. Specifically I investigate the changes in public opinion regarding women's ability to become leaders in times of increased security threats. Finally, to complete my theory and understand dyadic situations, I research the level of support for a military operation when the opposing leader is a woman. How do people feel and what are their ideas on foreign policy when the rival country is led by a woman? To answer this question, I provide new evidence from national sample in United States. This very extensive study will add to our understanding as to how security concerns, today a global problem, influence women's political status. It will enhance our understanding of women's representation and policy outcomes. Of no less importance, for women seeking leadership roles, this dissertation will show them the barriers they face and how to overcome them. A society which seeks equality and fairness must acknowledge and understand its limitations in order to overcome them. This dissertation aims to reveal some of those limitations. Hopefully, this study will contribute to advancing a more egalitarian society.

publication date

  • December 2018