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Social identity and governance: The behavioral response to female leaders

Journal article
Authors Lata Gangadharan
Tarun Jain
Pushkar Maitra
Joseph Vecci
Published in European Economic Review
Volume 90
Pages 302-325
ISSN 0014-2921
Publication year 2016
Published at
Pages 302-325
Language en
Keywords Gender; Leaders; Affirmative action; Male backlash; India
Subject categories Economics


This paper uses data from artefactual field experiments and surveys conducted in 61 villages in India to examine whether men and women respond differently to women as leaders. We investigate the extent to which behavior towards female leaders is influenced by experience with women in leadership positions. We find evidence of significant male backlash against female leaders, which can be attributed to the transgression of social norms and in particular, a violation of male identity, when women are assigned to positions of leadership through gender based quotas. Increased exposure to female leaders reduces the extent of bias.

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