Political Participation

Hunt, Swanee. “Muslim Women in the Bosnian Crucible”. Sex Roles 51.5-6 (2004): , 51, 5-6, 301-317. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Exotic tales and dramatic details about Muslim women's views of Bosnian society are uncommon. In fact, few Muslim women in Bosnia are overtly Islamic in appearance or action. Rather, they blend into a secularized society in which Islamic heritage provides traditions and values, not dogma. Despite this assimilation, 12 Bosnian women relate 3 different but connected features of their lives: the effect on sex roles of the political turmoil of the past century, the particular perspective women bring to questions of war and peace, and the rich prewar multiculturalism. Their overarching consensus is that women in Bosnia are equipped for leadership but stifled by an erosion of their status in society. During the communist period, women gained a greater level of freedom and became independent thinkers, even though the communists didn't allow them to exercise the leadership they'd assumed during World War II. With the demise of communism in the late 1980s and the chaos of all-out war in the early 1990s, women were preoccupied with survival. Cultural tolerance emerged as a unifying factor for Bosnian women of different tradition, education, and socioeconomic status, although this was obscured by the outside misconception that the war was caused by ‘age-old hatreds’. On the contrary, religion not only was far from a central identity, but, according to many Bosnian women, it simply did not matter. Yes, they were victims of a ruthless genocide; but Muslim women in Bosnia are also energetic, determined, smart, and savvy.

Sen, Maya, and Adam Glynn. “Identifying Judicial Empathy: Does Having Daughters Cause Judges to Rule for Women's Issues?”. American Journal of Political Science (2014): , 1-18. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In this article, we consider whether personal relationships can affect the way that judges decide cases. To do so, we leverage the natural experiment of a child's gender to identify the effect of having daughters on the votes of judges. Using new data on the family lives of U.S. Courts of Appeals judges, we find that, conditional on the number of children a judge has, judges with daughters consistently vote in a more feminist fashion on gender issues than judges who have only sons. This result survives a number of robustness tests and appears to be driven primarily by Republican judges. More broadly, this result demonstrates that personal experiences influence how judges make decisions, and this is the first article to show that empathy may indeed be a component in how judges decide cases.

Sen, Maya. “Quantifying Discrimination: Exploring the Role of Race and Gender and the Awarding of Subprime Mortgage Loans”. (2012). Print.Abstract

The recent subprime mortgage crisis has brought to the forefront the possibility of discriminatory lending on the basis of race or gender. Using the over 10 million observations collected by the federal government in 2006 through the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, this paper explores these claims causally. In so doing, the paper explores two possible theories of discrimination: (1) that any discriminatory lending patterns are picking up the fact that minority borrowers went to different lenders, perhaps as a result of predatory lending, and (2) the possibility that individual lenders discriminated against identically situated borrowers. The results presented provide limited evidence for the idea that borrowers of different races went to different lenders, but only in certain regions of the country and only for certain minority groups. In addition, many of these results are sensitive to missing confounders – e.g., financial data like credit scores and down payments, which the federal government does not collect. Ultimately, the results’ sensitivity suggests that more data gathering is in order before definitive assertions can be made by legal and policy actors.

Hunt, Swanee. “Women's Vital Voices: The Costs of Exclusion in Eastern Europe”. Foreign Affairs 86.3 (2007): , 86, 3, 109-120. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The advent of democracy in the former community states of Europe brings both much promise and, as we are learning much peril. For millions, the complexion of life has evolved from red to rose-colored to raw. A monolithic nemesis has been replaced by a perplexing variety of threats to stability in this fragile region, with expressions of democracy frequently drowned out by the noises of intolerance and repression.

Amiri, Rina, Swanee Hunt, and Jennifer Sova. “Transition Within Tradition: Women's Participation in Restoring Afghanistan”. Sex Roles 51.5-6 (2004): , 51, 5-6, 283-291. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The eyes of the world focused on Afghanistan: our global consciousness was awakened to the plight of a population in turmoil. The subjugation of women served as part of a call to arms, another reason used to justify armed conflict half a world away. Images of women in burkas, kept from education, health care, and meaningful work, their myriad talents and skills wasted, helped mobilize the coalition that joined in defeating the Taliban.

Sen, Maya. “How Judicial Qualification Ratings May Disadvantage Minority and Female Candidates”. Journal of Law and Courts 21 (2014): , 2, 1, 33-65. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This paper uses two new datasets to investigate the reliance by political actors on the external vetting of judicial candidates, in particular vetting conducted by the nation's largest legal organization, the American Bar Association (ABA). First, I demonstrate that poorly rated lower-court nominees are significantly more likely to have their nominations fail before the Senate. However, I also show that minority and female nominees are more likely than whites and males to receive these lower ratings, even after controlling for education, experience, and partisanship via matching. Furthermore, by presenting results showing that ABA ratings are unrelated to judges' ultimate reversal rates, I show that these scores are a poor predictor of how nominees perform once confirmed. The findings in this paper complicate the ABA's influential role in judicial nominations, both in terms of its utility in predicting judicial "performance" and also in terms of possible implicit biases against minority candidates, and suggest that political actors rely on these ratings perhaps for reasons unrelated to the courts.

Hunt, Swanee, and Cristina Posa. “Women Waging Peace”. Foreign Policy 124 (2001): , 124, 38-47. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

You can't end wars by simply declaring peace. “Inclusive security” rests on the principle that fundamental social changes are necessary to prevent renewed hostilities. Women have proven time and again their unique ability to bridge seemingly insurmountable divides. So why aren’t they at the negotiating table?

Groeling, Tim, Matthew A Baum, and Martie Haselton. “Political Scandal, Gender, and Tabloid News: An Experimental Examination of the Evolutionary Origins of Consumer Preferences for Scandalous News”. (2006). Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Building on recent work in evolutionary psychology, we predict substantial gender-related differences in demand for scandalous political news. We argue that individuals’ self-images can alter their motivation to seek information about potential sexual competitors and mates, even when those figures are “virtual”—appearing in mass media. Individuals perceiving themselves as attractive will seek negative news about attractive same-gender individuals, whereas individuals perceiving themselves as unattractive will seek negative information about the opposite gender. We test our hypotheses in three ways. First, we investigate partially disaggregated national opinion data regarding news attention. Second, we conduct an experiment in which we asked participants to choose the two most interesting stories from a menu of headlines. We varied the gender and party affiliation of the individual featured in the story. Each participant saw a headline promoting a DUI arrest of an attractive male or female “rising star” from one of the two parties. Finally, we repeat the experiment with a national sample, this time also varying the valence of the tabloid story. We find strong correlations between respondents’ self-image and their likelihood of seeking and distributing positive or negative information about “virtual” competitors and mates.

Edlund, Lena, and Rohini Pande. “Why Have Women Become Left-Wing? The Political Gender Gap and the Decline in Marriage”. Quarterly Journal of Economics 117.3 (2002): , 117, 3, 917-961. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The last three decades have witnessed the rise of a pohtical gender gap in the United States wherein more women than men favor the Democratic party. We trace this development to the decline in marriage, which we posit has made men richer and women poorer. Data for the United States support this argument. First, there is a strong positive correlation between state divorce prevalence and the political gender gap—higher divorce prevalence reduces support for the Democrats among men but not women. Second, longitudinal data show that following marriage (divorce), women are less (more) likely to support the Democratic party.

Gargani, Ghalia, May Al-Dabbagh, and Hannah Riley Bowles. Rethinking Women Leadership Development Programs in the UAE. 2012. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In the increasingly globalized context of the UAE, women’s leadership
development programs have become  high on the agenda of government,
academic and private sector organizations. Accordingly, the UAE
is an interesting location to examine the growth in women’s leadership
development programs and to better understand their evolution, goals and
impacts. These programs vary greatly in levels of impact, some providing
models to follow and continue building upon and others offering a learning
opportunity on what works and what doesn’t in the UAE particularly and
the region more generally. With a roundtable discussion on women’s
leadership development as a backdrop, which brought together experts from
three key sectors (private, public, academic), this policy brief reevaluates
women’s leadership development programs in the UAE. Through a diversity of perspectives, important questions regarding women’s leadership development are posed with the ultimate goal to present key recommendations to policy makers in the UAE about how to improve and strengthen such programs

Maya Sen

Maya Sen

Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School
2014 Sep 10

WAPPP Open House

12:00pm to 1:00pm


WAPPP Cason Seminar Room, Taubman 102

Please join us to learn about the Women and Public Policy Program and our work of creating and sharing knowledge that helps close gender gaps in economic opportunity, political participation, health, and education. We will discuss our initiatives, fellowship stipends, and other student opportunities. 

Lunch will be provided. 

RSVP not required.