Political Empowerment

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. “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 A monolithic nemesis has been replaced by a perplexing variety of threats to stability in this fragile region, with expressions of democracy frequently drowned out by the noises of intolerance and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.

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, 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?

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.

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.

Banaji, Mahzarin, and Anthony G Greenwald. “Implicit Gender Stereotyping in Judgments of Fame”. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 68.2 (1995): , 68, 2, 181-198. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Implicit (unconscious) gender stereotyping in fame judgments was tested with an adaptation of a procedure developed by L. L. Jacoby, C. M. Kelley, J. Brown, and J. Jasechko (1989). In Experiments 1-4, participants pronounced 72 names of famous and nonfamous men and women, and 24 or 48 hr later made fame judgments in response to the 72 familiar and 72 unfamiliar famous and nonfamous names. These first experiments, in which signal detection analysis was used to assess implicit stereotypes, demonstrate that the gender bias (greater assignment of fame to male than female names) was located in the use of a lower criterion (B) for judging fame of familiar male than female names. Experiments 3 and 4 also showed that explicit expressions of sexism or stereotypes were uncorrelated with the observed implicit gender bias in fame judgments.

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.

Maya Sen

Maya Sen

Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School
Mansbridge, Jane, and Shauna L Shames. “Toward a Theory of Backlash: Dynamic Resistance and the Central Role of Power”. Politics & Gender 44 (2008): , 4, 4, 623-634. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

To understand backlash theoretically, we must first carve out an analytically useful term from the cluster of its common political associations. In colloquial usage, “backlash” denotes politically conservative reactions to progressive (or liberal) social or political change (Faludi 1991 is a classic in this vein). Here, however, we attempt a nonideological definition of backlash embedded in a more neutral approach to its study. In colloquial usage, backlash includes acts of genuine persuasion as well as of power. Here, however, we suggest that it may be analytically helpful to confine its meaning to acts of coercive power. We draw on the sociological literature on social movements and countermovements, as well as the political science literature on power, preferences, and interests. We focus mostly on examples drawn from the United States and relating to feminism and gender. We begin where the process of backlash itself begins, with power and a challenge to the status quo.

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