Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Robert E. Blobaum

Committee Co-Chair

Katherine Aaslestad

Committee Member

Joshua Arthurs


The under representation of women in national parliaments is a phenomenon that plagues much of the world, with the Baltic Sea Region being no exception. Two countries, Estonia and Poland, are chosen for comparative analysis in this paper, as they possess different cultures and histories, but have similar proportion of female representation at the national level. The comparison provides insight into the situation women face in politics in two post-communist states in Central and Eastern Europe. This paper will examine the trends in the proportion of female representatives in Poland and Estonia's national parliaments in the transition from communism to democracy and post-transition periods. The work seeks to conceptualize why women in Poland and Estonia continue to be grossly underrepresented in the upper echelons of power by employing R.W. Connell's concept of hegemonic masculinity. Hegemonic masculinity explicates the cultural force that both dominates and subordinates femininity as well as other masculinities, thus resulting in low proportions of women in the national parliaments of the new countries examined. Three time periods are developed for a fuller analysis of changes in the number of women seated in the upper echelons of power: the communist period, the transition period, 1989-2004, and the post-transition period, 2004-2012. The work notes the changes in gender equality policies in each country after accession to the European Union in 2004 and explores the possibilities of greater gender equality in each state.