SIA student works toward greater gender equality in Argentina

SIA student Jessica Bagwell

Jessica Bagwell has always had an interest in civil rights and humanitarian causes, and this summer she was able to put those interests to work while gaining hands-on experience researching gender inequality in Argentina.

“It’s such a huge issue here in the U.S. and in so many other countries, and something that I’ve always been very aware of that’s going to impact me personally when I join the work workforce,” Bagwell said. “I think it’s very important to discuss and research, and I hope my work this summer will help the Argentinian government make informed choices about how to best address the gender gap.”

Bagwell learned of the opportunity to intern with the Fundacion del Otro—a nonprofit that often partners with the Argentinian government and other organizations to promote civil rights and social responsibility—through the School of International Affairs Career Services Office.

After being accepted to the summer program to work with the Argentinean public interest organization, she traveled to Buenos Aires for the summer to begin her work examining the extent of gender inequality across different levels of government in the South American country.

Although the project initially focused specifically on the Buenos Aires Province, Bagwell also investigated gender inequality across all 23 provinces of Argentina. She says the results weren’t entirely unexpected, but were striking nonetheless and produced hard numbers that the Fundacion del Otro can use to advocate for public policy to encourage greater participation among women in the political process.

“Throughout the nation, the vast majority of higher-level positions are held by men,” Bagwell said. “Of 2,000 municipalities, the number of female mayors is in the low double digits. It’s a huge level of inequality.”

Bagwell is proud to have contributed to the advancement of greater gender equity in Argentina, and says her work built on the themes of her education at the School of International Affairs. The experience especially built on her work in Professor Sophia McClennen’s course on Global Cultures and Leadership and former U.S. Ambassador Dennis Jett’s Colloquium on Current Policy Challenges.

“It was a very unique experience, and one that will be very valuable once I enter the workforce,” Bagwell said.