Research Insights

Positioned within Harvard Kennedy School, the Women and Public Policy Program (WAPPP) is a research center that focuses on closing gender gaps in economic opportunity, political participation, and education by creating knowledge, training leaders, and informing public policy and organizational practices.

WAPPP looks at what policies, organizational structures, and leadership techniques help close involuntary gender gaps—those that occur due to constraints rather than choice—either due to explicit barriers (laws or the absence thereof) and/or implicit barriers (stereotypes, biased judgements, and discrimination). Conducting research to provide evidence-based insights and recommendations, we identify small to large-scale successful interventions, while examining the impact of closing gender gaps.

Our world-class faculty—including Iris Bohnet, Hannah Riley Bowles, Dara Kay Cohen, Jane Mansbridge, and Rohini Pande—have deepened our understanding of the evolving landscape of gender gaps and the mechanisms we can employ to close them.

Recent Publications

Hideg, Ivona, and Anne E. Wilson. “History backfires: Reminders of past injustices against women undermine support for workplace policies promoting women”. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes (In Press). Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Public discourse on current inequalities often invokes past injustice endured by minorities. This rhetoric also sometimes underlies contemporary equality policies. Drawing on social identity theory and the employment equity literature, we suggest that reminding people about past injustice against a disadvantaged group (e.g., women) can invoke social identity threat among advantaged group members (e.g., men) and undermine support for employment equity (EE) policies by fostering the belief that inequality no longer exists. We find support for our hypotheses in four studies examining Canadian (three studies) and American (one study) EE policies. Overall, we found that reminders of past injustice toward women undermined men’s support for an EE policy promoting women by heightening their denial of current gender discrimination. Supporting a social identity account, men’s responses were mediated by collective self-esteem, and were attenuated when threat was mitigated. Reminders of past injustice did not influence women’s support for the EE policy.
Trombini, Chiara, Logan A. Berg, and Hannah Riley Bowles. “Anger and Anxiety in Masculine Stereotypic and Male Dominated (MSMD) Negotiating Contexts ”. In Press. Print.Abstract

In this chapter, we explore ways in which affective experience and expression might moderate effects of gender on negotiation, particularly in masculine-stereotypic and male- dominated (MSMD) contexts. We argue that, in MSMD contexts (as compared to more gender- equitable situations), men are likely to have a more chronic experience of power than women and that such gender differences in actual, perceived, and felt power are likely to reinforce gender stereotypes favoring men in negotiation. We articulate a set of propositions about the potential effects of anger and anxiety—two power-linked affective states—on gender in negotiations in MSMD contexts. We consider implications for negotiators’ social and economic outcomes. In conclusion, we suggest practical considerations for managers in MSMD work environments.


Gender Action Portal

A collection of summarized research evaluating the impact of specific policies, strategies, and organizational practices to close gender gaps in the areas of economic opportunity, politics, health, and education.

The Gender Action Portal (GAP) focuses on experimental approaches to evaluate policies–both in the field and in the laboratory–and draws from multiple disciplines, including economics, psychology, and organizational behavior.

GAP serves as an online tool for decision makers across sectors to utilize evidence-based research in order to create better informed policies and procedures.

Search all GAP interventions »

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New Research on the Gender Action Portal

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