Si la mujer no esta la democracia no va: The Impact of Gender Stereotypes on Chilean Women during the 1988 Plebiscite

Kendall Gail


Faculty Advisor: Lily Frusciante


Kendall is a fourth year student at Northwestern University with a major concentration in human development and psychological services in addition to minors in Spanish and legal studies. Throughout her undergraduate career, she has explored how psychology, law, and culture shape aspects of society and can be used to combat social inequity. Currently, Kendall is a research assistant with the Dean of Northwestern’s School of Education and Social Policy, a tour guide for Northwestern’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions and a student ambassador for Northwestern’s Global Learning Office. After graduation Kendall plans to pursue a law degree in order to explore the political systems of other countries, namely those in Latin America. She speaks English and Spanish, is currently learning Portuguese, and hopes to learn French, Arabic and ASL. When not researching or working on school work, Kendall can often be found running alongside Lake Michigan or baking vegan treats. 


The presentation, role and participation of Chilean women during the 1988 Chilean political referendum.

I was in a class entitled ‘“Where Memory Dwells’: The Memory Debate within Contemporary Latin America” in which we discussed memory in Latin American countries after traumatic, violent periods, especially dictatorships during the 1970s and 1980s. I was interested in learning more about these periods and was specifically intrigued by the events in Chile, in which the country held a public referendum democratically voted out General Augusto Pinochet 16 years after he took power via a bloody coup. I had read about Chilean women, mostly housewives, protesting the regime and fighting to find loved ones disappeared by the dictatorship and was interested to see if this desire to fight back appeared in political materials during the referendum in 1988. As I researched and engaged with primary sources, I was able to narrow down my scope to how women were presented in political propaganda, how they participated in formal and informal political spaces, and what role they played overall leading up to the vote.

In terms of future exploration I am currently working on an extension of this project after noticing similarities between how Donald Trump used political propaganda in 2020 to appeal to his base and what Augusto Pinochet did in 1988. I applied for and received another grant from OUR to examine this question and am currently working on this project, specifically focusing comparing the authoritarian rhetoric used by both men in their reelection bids in order to appeal to their conservative, female supporters. I’m hoping this research will illuminate some of the authoritarian, divisive tactics used by Donald Trump and explore similarities and differences in how female political responses, especially in conservative learning female voters, appear in Chile and America. I am also exploring how media can be manipulated in order to appeal to specific female stereotypes regarding safety, family and future security, and there is plenty of work to explore how various political leaders incorporate such stereotypes in their own political messaging.

I am planning to take a gap year and then apply to law school, hopefully to focus on international law and politics and human rights law.