This event occurred on April 22nd, 2008
Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs
Georgetown University

Women have made less progress towards gender equality in the Middle East than in any other region. Many observers claim this is due to the region's Islamic traditions. Michael Ross argues, on the contrary, that oil production has caused women to lag behind in many other countries, including Nigeria, Venezuela, and Russia. In other words, oil - not Islam - is harmful for women in the Middle East. Speaking at Georgetown University, Ross argued that oil production reduces economic opportunities for women and thus limits their political influence. As a result, oil-producing states maintain atypically strong patriarchal norms. In the context of a focused comparison of oil-rich Algeria and oil-poor Morocco and Tunisia, Ross presented global data on oil production, female work patterns, and female political representation.

Michael Ross is an Associate Professor of Political Science, Chairman of the International Development Studies Interdepartmental Program at UCLA, and the Acting Director of the UCLA Center for Southeast Asian Studies. He received his Ph.D. in Politics from Princeton University in 1996. His research deals with political economy, democratization, natural resources, and poverty in the developing world - particularly (but not exclusively) in Southeast Asia. His main project is a book on the "resource curse" that explains why countries with lots of natural resource wealth tend to do worse than countries without resource wealth. His most recent publication is Timber Booms and Institutional Breakdown in Southeast Asia (Cambridge, 2001).

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