Under-representation by gender or other characteristics is receiving increased attention, both in policy-making and research (Allgood et al. 2019). Diversity is seen as highly desirable, for reasons of fairness and representation, and because it brings with it more varied perspectives, which in turn enhances innovation (Ann Hewlett, Marshall, and Sherbin 2013; Heaton and Aminossehe 2020). It can improve the quality of policymaking on the supply side. Constraints to diversity on the demand side, and their consequences, have received less attention. We investigate whether such constraints on the demand side exist, and need addressing to realize the benefits of diversity. Using a survey experiment we assess whether perceived, quality, valuation, and take-up of professional advice depends on the identity of the provider, and test and explore channels through which this works. We also investigate whether the supply of advice depends on the gender of the commissioning party.
Our setting is a UK Government department that represent a high-stakes policy environment. We use experimentally varied survey vignettes to investigate if gender of the involved parties matters for civil service decision making. Specifically, we examine if decisions made on the basis of new information and analysis depends on the identity of the source providing this information, as well as or instead of its perceived quality. We investigate two sets of questions. Firstly, do decisions made in the organization vary according to the gender of technical advisers? Secondly, if there is such a bias, is it mitigated by the style and type of advice given, specifically if advice is more or less conscientious and detailed?