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Maria C. Escobar-Lemmon

Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education, College of Liberal Arts
Areas of Speciality
  • Comparative Politics
  • Public Administration and Public Policy
  • Race, Equality and Gender
  • (979) 845-1442
  • LASB 133
Professional Links

Research Interests

  • Women’s Representation
  • Latin American Political Institutions
  • Decentralization and Federalism
  • Presidential Cabinets


Dr. Maria C. Escobar-Lemmon is an active member of the department’s Program in the Cross-National Study of Politics and the Project for Equity, Representation, and Governance.  She studies the ways democratic institutions affect how citizens are represented by and interact with government, with a regional focus on Latin America and special emphasis on the representation of women.

One major branch of research focuses on political institutions – with emphasis on Latin America. She has previously published research focusing on Latin American legislatures. Her past work has focused on the way national-level electoral laws create incentives for congressmen to represent constituents or party leaders.  Her current work on institutions focuses on the representation of women in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of different Latin American countries. With Michelle Taylor-Robinson she is currently writing a book on the background and impact of female ministers in presidential systems.  Her studies of women in presidential cabinets also include a focus on the United States.  Together with Michelle Taylor-Robinson she is the co-editor of Representation: The Case of Women (forthcoming from Oxford University Press), which examines the meaning and measurement of women’s interests in different government venues.  She is also collaborating with Alice Kang, Miki Kittilson and Valerie Hoekestra on a NSF funded project “Diffusing Equality: Women’s Representation on High Courts” which examines the role the diffusion of norms regarding gender equality play in leading to more women on high courts.

A second line of research examines the consequences of decentralization and the functioning of local governments. Included in this line of research is work bridging the subfield of comparative politics and public policy/public administration that examine how decentralization has affect the delivery of services and whether it minimizes corruption. She and Ashley Ross recently published a paper entitled “Does Decentralization Improve Accountability?” which concluded that administrative and fiscal decentralization lead citizens to perceive higher levels of accountability in subnational government.

Her work has appeared in the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of PoliticsElectoral StudiesJournal of Policy StudiesPolitical Research Quarterly, and Publius: the Journal of Federalism.
Her research combines statistical techniques for studying Latin America as a whole with in-depth field research in specific countries. She has done field research in Colombia, Costa Rica, and Venezuela, collecting data in government archives (including legislative records), and conducting interviews with members of congresses, officials in the executive branch, and other important actors.

Dr. Escobar-Lemmon teaches undergraduate courses on Latin American politics and legislatures, comparative politics, and globalization and democracy, as well as introductory state and local politics. She has taught graduate seminars on Latin American politics, comparative politics and recently on Federalism and Decentralization.

Courses Taught

Undergraduate courses

  • POLS 207: State and Local Government
  • POLS 368: Latin American Legislatures
  • POLS 229: Introduction to Comparative Politics

Graduate courses

  • POLS 623: Seminar in Cross-National Topics: Federalism & Decentralization
  • POLS 641: Seminar in Public Administration: Federalism & Decentralization
  • POLS 620: Seminar in Comparative Politics
  • POLS 624: Regional Seminar: Latin American Politics

Representative Publications

Escobar-Lemmon, Maria and Ashley D. Ross. “Does Decentralization Improve Perceptions of Accountability? Attitudinal Evidence from Colombia.” American Journal of Political Science. 58(1): 175-188.