Political Participation

Beaman, Lori A, et al.Powerful Women: Does Exposure Reduce Bias?”. Quarterly Journal of Economics 124.4 (2009): , 124, 4, 1497-1540. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

We exploit random assignment of gender quotas for leadership positions on Indian village councils to show that prior exposure to a female leader is associated with electoral gains for women. After ten years of quotas, women are more likely to stand for, and win, elected positions in councils required to have a female chief councilor in the previous two elections. We provide experimental and survey evidence on one channel of influence—changes in voter attitudes. Prior exposure to a female chief councilor improves perceptions of female leader effectiveness and weakens stereotypes about gender roles in the public and domestic spheres.

Available on the Gender Action Portal:

Beaman, Lori A, et al.Female Leadership Raises Aspirations and Educational Attainment for Girls: A Policy Experiment in India”. Science 335.6068 (2012): , 335, 6068, 582-586. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Exploiting a randomized natural experiment in India, we show that female leadership influences adolescent girls’ career aspirations and educational attainment. A 1993 law reserved leadership positions for women in randomly selected village councils. Using 8453 surveys of adolescents aged 11 to 15 and their parents in 495 villages, we found that, relative to villages in which such positions were never reserved, the gender gap in aspirations closed by 20% in parents and 32% in adolescents in villages assigned a female leader for two election cycles. The gender gap in adolescent educational attainment was erased, and girls spent less time on household chores. We found no evidence of changes in young women’s labor market opportunities, which suggests that the impact of women leaders primarily reflects a role model effect.

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Bowles, Hannah Riley. “Claiming Authority: How Women Explain their Ascent to Top Business Leadership Positions”. (2012). Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Career stories of 50 female executives from major corporations and high-growth entrepreneurial ventures suggest two alternative accounts of how women legitimize their claims to top leadership positions: navigating and pioneering. In navigating accounts, the women legitimized their claims to top authority positions by following well institutionalized paths of career advancement (e.g., high performance in line jobs) and self-advocating with the gatekeepers of the social hierarchy (e.g., bosses, investors). In pioneering accounts, the women articulated a strategic vision and cultivated a community of support and followership around their strategic ideas and leadership. The career stories suggested that, when the women’s authority claims were not validated, they engaged in narrative identity work to revise their aspirations and legitimization strategies. Sometimes narrative identity work motivated women to shift from one type of account to another, particularly from navigating to pioneering. Based on inductive analyses of these 50 career stories, I propose a process model of how women legitimize their claims to top leadership positions by recursively resetting career accounts as authority claims succeed or fail.

Rohini Pande

Rohini Pande

Rafik Hariri Professor of International Political Economy, Harvard Kennedy School

Rohini Pande is an economist and her research examines how the design of democratic institutions and government regulation affects policy outcomes and citizen well-being, especially in South Asia. Her work emphasizes the use of real-world evidence to test economic models, often through large-scale field experiments in developing countries. She has worked extensively on the design and impact of electoral accountability and transparency initiatives, financial access initiatives and environmental regulation in low-income settings.... Read more about Rohini Pande