Date of Thesis

Spring 2023


Across the post-Soviet region, but particularly in the Baltic states, women executives have gained power in greater numbers and at higher rates than many other regions in the world. This defies existing literature, as these states maintain conservative gender stereotypes while also facing a major security threat from Russia close to their borders. This thesis posits that the increase in women within Baltic legislatures across time creates a political pipeline, or a pool of qualified candidates that makes the election of women to executive power more likely. This is not the only factor, however, as the influence of NATO as a guarantor of Baltic security cannot be understated. Thus, this research finds evidence that NATO’s Article V has provided a security guarantee for the Baltic states, which has resulted in a consensus around security policy. This removes security as a major issue in elections, and lessens the burden of proving security competence from women leaders - an area which often aggravates the effect of stereotypes. If this security consensus is disrupted, however, women face an altered double-bind scenario in which they must balance the maintenance of a positive relationship with NATO/the U.S. while fulfilling their cultural role as women, tied deeply to national survival and independence. Estonia and Lithuania are selected as case studies, which culminate in an examination of current Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte.


women leaders, presidents, prime ministers, Estonia, Lithuania, Baltic states

Access Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Type

Bachelor of Arts


International Relations

Minor, Emphasis, or Concentration

Russian Studies

First Advisor

David Mitchell

Second Advisor

Courtney Burns