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Female leaders and their response to the social environment

Journal article
Authors L. Gangadharan
T. Jain
P. Maitra
Joseph Vecci
Published in Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization
Volume 164
Pages 256-272
ISSN 0167-2681
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Economics
Pages 256-272
Language en
Keywords Affirmative action, Belief elicitation, Gender, Governance, India, Leaders, Leadership experiment
Subject categories Gender Studies, Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)


Using data from two sets of experiments conducted in rural India, this paper finds that relative to men, women assigned to be leaders contribute less than what they propose in a public goods game. We examine whether this behavior is influenced by the social environment. We find that female leaders deviate negatively from their proposals more frequently than males, when the gender of the leader is revealed and in villages with a female head assigned through an exogenous affirmative action policy. Women leaders anticipating lower economic and social costs for their actions compared to male leaders are potential explanations for observed gender differences in behavior. Our results suggest that the social environment can influence the behavior and the potential effectiveness of female leaders. © 2019 Elsevier B.V.

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