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, health, 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

Schwartz-Ziv, Miriam. “Gender and Board Activeness: The Role of a Critical Mass”. Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis (JFQA), Forthcoming 52.2 (2017): , 52, 2, 751-780. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This study analyzes detailed minutes of board meetings of business companies in which the Israeli government holds a substantial equity interest. Boards with at least three directors of each gender are found to be at least 79% more active at board meetings than those without such representation. This phenomenon is driven by women directors in particular; they are more active when a critical mass of at least three women is in attendance. Gender-balanced boards are also more likely to replace underperforming CEOs and are particularly active during periods when CEOs are being replaced.
Zippel, Kathrin. Women in Global Science: Advancing Academic Careers through International Collaboration. Stanford University Press, 2017. Web. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Scientific and engineering research is increasingly global, and international collaboration can be essential to academic success. Yet even as administrators and policymakers extol the benefits of global science, few recognize the diversity of international research collaborations and their participants, or take gendered inequalities into account. Women in Global Science is the first book to consider systematically the challenges and opportunities that the globalization of scientific work brings to U.S. academics, especially for women faculty.

Kathrin Zippel looks to the STEM fields as a case study, where gendered cultures and structures in academia have contributed to an underrepresentation of women. While some have approached underrepresentation as a national concern with a national solution, Zippel highlights how gender relations are reconfigured in global academia. For U.S. women in particular, international collaboration offers opportunities to step outside of exclusionary networks at home. International collaboration is not the panacea to gendered inequalities in academia, but, as Zippel argues, international considerations can be key to ending the steady attrition of women in STEM fields and developing a more inclusive academic world.


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.

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