Marwa Shalaby, Assistant Professor in the departments of Gender and Women’s Studies and Political Science, earned her Ph.D. at the University of Houston in 2013. She joined the UW-Madison faculty, as the Anna Julia Cooper Fellow, in fall of 2019. She works mainly on comparative politics and democratization and research methodology. Her primary research interests are the intersection of the politics of authoritarianism, and women in politics. She currently serves on the editorial boards of Politics and Religion and Review of Economics and Political Science.
An interview with Marwa
What classes do you teach?
I am offering a variety of classes this year at UW-Madison: Gender and Politics in the Middle East; Middle East and North Africa Politics and Governments; and Gender, Islam and Women’s Rights. All my classes offer a comparative perspective on political institutions, governance and gender relations in authoritarian and transitioning contexts.
What languages do you speak?
I speak Arabic (native) as well as French.
What are your research interests? What sparked your interest in this field?
My research interests are gender politics, legislative politics in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and authoritarianism. The stark underrepresentation of women in formal politics, especially in non-democratic settings, such as the MENA region, was the main reason why I decided to pursue a graduate degree in political science and to specialize in comparative politics. I was very keen to better understand the roots of such inequalities and to find innovative solutions, by means of my research, to help resolve these disparities and to build more inclusive societies in MENA and elsewhere.
What contributions does your work make to UW-Madison or to the world at large?
My work aims to find ways to further empower minorities and marginalized groups and to provide them with a voice in decision-making processes. I am also a deep believer that change must happen from within. Over the past years, my research has been cited in major domestic and international news and policy outlets. At UW-Madison and as part of the Middle East cluster, I hope that UW-Madison will be one of the leading institutions in Middle East studies. I hope we can attract more undergraduate and graduate students interested in MENA politics and research.
What is your most memorable research experience?
I am fortunate enough to have had many memorable research experiences over the past years! Interviewing female legislators in MENA and getting to know more about them and their work has been an eye-opening experience for me. These women work in very challenging environments given the authoritarian nature of MENA politics coupled with highly conservative cultural and social norms. They never fail to impress me with their creativity, flexibility, and sincere commitment to making positive change and leaving a lasting legacy.