Women Don't Run? Gender Differences in Candidate Entry
48 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2012 Last revised: 24 Aug 2012
Date Written: 2012
We investigate the role of gender in the choice of whether or not to run for political office. In order to control for confounding factors that might affect the relative propensities for women and men to enter politics, we take the question of the choice to enter elections to the laboratory. The key features of our experimental design involve (1) an objective task that represents policymaking ability for which there is population heterogeneity, (2) monetary rewards that ensure that all subjects, regardless of gender, face the same incentives (conditional only on their own task ability) to run for office and to select a representative with the highest task ability, and (3) a comparison of random versus electoral selection mechanisms. Formal analysis of the incentives in our experiment clarifies the role of task ability and identifies several additional factors in the decision to enter the election. Preliminary evidence indicates that there are gender differences in choices to run for office, with women less likely to run than men with similar abilities, and that such differences are specific to the competitive and strategic context of campaigns and elections.
Keywords: Political candidates, laboratory experiment, decision making, formal theory, gender
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