Political Empowerment

Mansbridge, Jane. “Whatever happened to the ERA?”. Women and the U.S. Constitution: History, Interpretation, and Practice. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2004. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Women and the U.S. Constitution is about much more than the nineteenth amendment. This provocative volume incorporates law, history, political theory, and philosophy to analyze the U.S. Constitution as a whole in relation to the rights and fate of women. Divided into three parts—History, Interpretation, and Practice—this book views the Constitution as a living document, struggling to free itself from the weight of a two-hundred-year-old past and capable of evolving to include women and their concerns.

Feminism lacks both a constitutional theory as well as a clearly defined theory of political legitimacy within the framework of democracy. The scholars included here take significant and crucial steps toward these theories. In addition to constitutional issues such as federalism, gender discrimination, basic rights, privacy, and abortion, Women and the U.S. Constitution explores other issues of central concern to contemporary women—areas that, strictly speaking, are not yet considered a part of constitutional law. Women’s traditional labor and its unique character, and women and the welfare state, are two examples of topics treated here from the perspective of their potentially transformative role in the future development of constitutional law.

Beaman, Lori, Rohini Pande, and Alexandra Cirone. “Chapter 14: Politics as a Male Domain and Empowerment in India”. The Impact of Gender Quotas. Oxford University Press, 2012. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract
  • First comparative, multi-country study of the impact of gender quotas across descriptive, substantive and symbolic dimensions of representation
  • Bridges literatures of gender quotas and women's political representation
  • Uses case studies from twelve countries to build broad theories about gender quotas and women's representation
Mansbridge, Jane. “Quota Problems: Combating the Dangers of Essentialism”. Politics & Gender 14 (2005): , 1, 4, 622-638. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Increasing the number of women in positions of political power is top priority for women’s movements and for governments around the world. Activists, international institutions, and national governments have come to see gender quota laws as the best way to achieve this goal. In the past 15 years, more than 40 countries have adopted measures that require a certain number of those running for or holding legislative office to be women. Political science research on this topic has hewn closely to empirical questions about this phenomenon: Under what conditions do countries adopt gender quota laws? What impact do they have on the percentage of women elected to office? What difference do “quota women” make once elected? This debate, by contrast, focuses on normative questions about gender quota laws. Are quotas a good idea? Should more countries adopt them? Should the United States consider them? We have invited leading scholars to step back from the more cautious findings of their research to tell us what they really think

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.

Available on the Gender Action Portal:

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:

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.

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