Gender stereotypes and patronage practices in women’s careers : a study of the mexican executive branch
Feminist institutionalism seeks to include women as actors and to understand the interplay between gender and the functioning of political institutions. Elite theory looks to understand social interaction that an establishment can effectively dictate by virtue of their control over the resources and organisations. Framed theoretically by these conjoint ideas, this paper studies how gender stereotypes affect women’s political careers. The aim is to understand how informal institutions in combination with social gendered stereotypes produce and reproduce patriarchal political systems, including gendered elite power relations. The study of elites has reinforced the idea of the existence of a ruling class composed of a ruling elite and sub-elites. In this arrangement, where dominant groups are characterised by the accumulation of power in the sense of having the ability and resources needed to control decisions, rules and behaviours are producing and reproducing the necessary conditions for elites to work, organise and exist. Thus, institutions are structuring political life. Among these informal institutions, different practices have been set to advance a political career. Patronage as the support and privilege an organisation or individual bestows to another, has work within the Mexican political system as a key element responsible for social order. Working in parallel, gendered stereotypes continue influencing expectations about behaviours. Through semi-structured interviews, conducted between September 2013 and August 2015, this paper sustains that one of the major constraints to the advancement of women’s political careers in the Mexican executive branch lies in the elite’s employment of a patronage system that is based on social arrangements distorted by gender stereotypes. The objective is to understand the mechanisms affecting the advancement of women’s political careers within the Mexican executive branch. © 2016, © 2016 The Author(s).