After Women's Rights: The Consequences of Gender Equality Reforms

My dissertation examines the consequences of gender incorporation—the embrace of de jure improvements in women’s rights and commitments to gender equality across a range of policy areas—in Morocco for subsequent contestation among political actors and the evolution of social norms. The project combines qualitative interview and focus group research conducted over 12 months of fieldwork in Morocco, analysis of existing data on legal reform, public opinion, and women’s political representation at the national and local levels, and evidence from two original experimental surveys. At the macro level, I examine the conflict that incorporation generates over what the bounds of change will be among feminists, conservatives, and the state, and I argue that conservative women in particular have been able to use the ambiguities of gender incorporation to their advantage. Facing new opportunities and challenges, activists are increasingly focused on looking beyond legal reform to try to promote changes in norms and attitudes directly. At the micro level, I examine the consequences of gender incorporation in a conservative society for (1) generational and gender gaps in attitudes; (2) perceived social norms of gender equality in the public and private spheres; (3) benevolent sexism; and (4) interpersonal backlash against counter-stereotypical women.