Your browser does not support JavaScript

Natalia Ramirez-Bustamante

Natalia Ramirez-Bustamante

S.J.D. 2018

nramirez at


Bargaining Women: Negotiating procreation in the market and at the ‘workplace’.
A legal sociological approach to women’s work from a Latin American Perspective.

How do women articulate the needs of the family with the needs of the labor market in contexts of limited welfare services and increasing liberalization of working conditions? What impact does labor legislation to protect maternity have on women’s insertion in the labor market? Most Latin American countries have included, as part of their legal framework on employment, a special protection for working women during pregnancy. Although these protection packages are designed to guard women from discrimination and encourage their participation in the labor market, they may hinder their opportunities to do so because of the employers’ perception of women, in general, as more costly workers who have special needs. As a consequence, women may be increasingly “willing” to negotiate their reproductive freedom –when to have their babies, how many, and how long between each one- as well as to reduce their share of legal benefits -reducing their leave time, being more flexible with accommodation rights or postponing the timing of their children- in order to remain competitive in the labor market.

To investigate this bargaining process and its implications, my SJD proposal builds on former legal and social research but suggests new questions that are relevant for a number of reasons. First, the most recent scholarly literature that inquires into the relationship family-labor-market, focuses on the way ‘the family’ and Family Law rules interact and are shaped by a diversity of other legal areas. My proposal includes this dimension but goes further into that relationship because it questions the impact that the labor market has on the decisions of procreation that are typically thought of as “private” decisions that pertain inside the household and that concern solely to its members. Second, instead of evaluating the measurable impact that the legislation on maternity has on women’s participation in the labor market–which has been the focus of earlier research in this area-, this study will try to question how they shape perceptions and decision-making processes of both employers and employees. To do so, on the one hand, I will inquire into how women negotiate procreation within the household –with their partner or their family- in order to go out to work. On the other, I will try to trace the impact that labor legislation on maternity has on employers –the market- and how their hiring and promoting decisions for the job are, or are not, shaped by the consequences that legal rules impose over a determinate population. Third, thanks to the recourse to the theory and methodology of qualitative methods and sociological research, this study transcends the strictly theoretical approaches on the relationship family-labor-market that are more common in legal studies and intends to thicken and nuance the comprehension of such relationship from the perspective of women workers, their partners –or families- and employers.

Fields of Research and Supervisors

  • Theories of the family with Professor Janet Halley, Harvard Law School, Overall Faculty Supervisor
  • Political Theory of Regulation and Economic Analysis of Law with Professor Duncan Kennedy, Harvard Law School
  • Sociology of Labor in Latin America and Qualitative Research Methods with Professor César Rodríguez Garavito, Universidad de los Andes

Additional Research Interests

  • Critical Legal Theory
  • Feminist Legal Theory
  • Public Interest Lawyering
  • Human Rights


  • Harvard Law School, S.J.D., 2018
  • Harvard Law School, LL.M. Program, 2010-2011  (requirements fulfilled, degree waived)
  • Universidad de los Andes, Colombia. Maestría en Derecho 2011
  • Universidad de los Andes, Colombia, Filósofa, 2007
  • Universidad de los Andes, Colombia, Filósofa, 2004

Representative Publications

  • Marriage Between two. Changing and unchanging conceptions of the family. The case of LGBTI rights litigation on family issues in Colombia, Springer (FORTHCOMING 2012)
    Daniel Bonilla & Natalia Ramírez, “Colombia, 18th Annual Congress of the International Academy of Comparative Law: National Report” in American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law, Vol. 19, 2011.
  • Natalia Ramírez & Juan Diego Álvarez. “Discursos excluyentes, participación y toma de decisiones. Una tension entre democracia participatica y tecnocracia en el sur global” In:OÑATI JOURNAL OF EMERGENT SOCIO LEGAL STUDIES. Vol. 4. 2010.
    Ley 581 de 2000 o ley de cuotas, ¿ganamos o perdimos? In OPINIÓN JURÍDICA, Vol. 6, No. 11, Enero-junio de 2007.

Additional Information

  • Languages: English, Spanish, French (basic skills)

Last Updated: November 16, 2012