Do affirmative action measures for women in politics change the way constituents view and interact with their female representatives? A subnational randomized policy experiment in Lesotho with single-member districts reserved for female community councilors provides causal evidence to this question. Using survey data, I find that having a quota-mandated female representative either has no effect on or actuallyreduces several dimensions of women’s self-reported engagement with local politics. In addition, implications from the policy experiment suggest that the quota effect is not accounted for by differences in qualifications or competence between the different groups of councilors, but rather stems from citizens’ negative reactions to the quota’s design.
This article charts a new direction in gender quota research by examining whether female legislators in general, and quota recipients in particular, are accorded respect and authority in plenary debates. We measure this recognition in relation to the number of times an individual member of parliament (MP) is referred to by name in plenary debates. We use a unique dataset from the Ugandan parliament to assess the determinants of MP name recognition in plenary debates over an eight-year period (2001–08). Controlling for other possible determinants of MP recognition, we find that women elected to reserved seats are significantly less recognised in plenary debates over time as compared to their male and female colleagues in open seats.