Powerful Women: Does Exposure Reduce Bias?

52 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2008  

Lori A. Beaman

Northwestern University - Department of Economics

Raghabendra Chattopadhyay

Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (IIMC)

Esther Duflo

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics; Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD)

Rohini Pande

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Petia B. Topalova

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 1, 2008

Abstract

We exploit random assignment of gender quotas across Indian village councils to investigate whether having a female chief councilor affects public opinion towards female leaders. Villagers who have never been required to have a female leader prefer male leaders and perceive hypothetical female leaders as less effective than their male counterparts, when stated performance is identical. Exposure to a female leader does not alter villagers' taste preference for male leaders. However, it weakens stereotypes about gender roles in the public and domestic spheres and eliminates the negative bias in how female leaders' effectiveness is perceived among male villagers. Female villagers exhibit less prior bias, but are also less likely to know about or participate in local politics; as a result, their attitudes are largely unaffected. Consistent with our experimental findings, villagers rate their women leaders as less effective when exposed to them for the first, but not second, time. These changes in attitude are electorally meaningful: after 10 years of the quota policy, women are more likely to stand for and win free seats in villages that have been continuously required to have a female chief councilor.

Keywords: Economics of gender, Non-labor Discrimination, Political Economy, Development Planning and Policy

JEL Classification: J16, P16, O2

Suggested Citation

Beaman, Lori A. and Chattopadhyay, Raghabendra and Duflo, Esther and Pande, Rohini and Topalova, Petia B., Powerful Women: Does Exposure Reduce Bias? (August 1, 2008). MIT Department of Economics Working Paper No. 08-14; HKS Working Paper No. RWP08-37. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1162358 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1162358

Lori A. Beaman

Northwestern University - Department of Economics ( email )

2003 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

HOME PAGE: http://faculty.wcas.northwestern.edu/~lab823/

Raghabendra Chattopadhyay

Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (IIMC) ( email )

B-202
Joka, Diamond Harbour Road
Calcutta, West Bengal 700104
India
+91 9433055230 (Phone)
+91 33 2467 8062 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://ssrn.com/author=289009

Esther Duflo (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

50 Memorial Drive
Room E52-544
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States
617-258-7013 (Phone)
617-253-6915 (Fax)

Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) ( email )

Cambridge, MA
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.povertyactionlab.org/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom

Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD) ( email )

Duke University
Durham, NC 90097
United States

Rohini Pande

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-384-5267 (Phone)
617-495-2575 (Fax)

Petia B. Topalova

International Monetary Fund (IMF) ( email )

700 19th Street N.W.
Washington, DC 20431
United States

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