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Perceptions of Female Leaders in India
Initial registration date
October 24, 2016
April 03, 2017 11:37 AM EDT
Other Primary Investigator(s)
International Monetary Fund
Indian Institute of Management
Additional Trial Information
We exploit random assignment of gender quotas for leadership positions across Indian village
councils to show that prior exposure to a female leader is associated with electoral gains for
women. After ten years of quotas, women are more likely to stand for, and win, elected positions
in councils required to have a female chief councilor in the previous two elections. We provide
experimental and survey evidence on one channel of influence - changes in voter attitudes. Prior
exposure to a female chief councilor improves perceptions of female leader effectiveness and
weakens stereotypes about gender roles in public and domestic spheres. Registration Citation
The government randomly required one-third of councilor positions in each council, and one-third of pradhan positions across councils, to be reserved for women. At the time of data analysis in 2008, two elections had taken place under this requirement, in 1998 and 2003. Thus, villages could be organized into one of four "treatment" groups: the position was never reserved for a female; reserved once in 1998; reserved once in 2003; or reserved in both 1998 and 2003.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Share of female pradhans or concilor seat contestants,
Share of female pradhans or councilors winning unreserved elections, Voter bias towards females
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Voter bias towards females was captured through the following: evaluations of current female pradhans; evaluation of the effectiveness of hypothetical leaders as described through vignettes, where the only variation was that leader's gender was experimentally manipulated; gender occupation stereotypes as measured through an Implicit Association Test (IAT); and taste towards male or female leaders, also measured through an IAT.
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
In this paper we exploit random variation in mandated exposure to female leaders across village councils in India. Beginning in the 1998, one-third of council leadership positions have been reserved for women. We take advantage of this randomization to examine the causal impact of mandated exposure on electoral outcomes, as well as villager attitudes and perceptions of women leaders.
Experimental Design Details
The study exploits a natural experiment, and so the random selection of the villages into treatment groups was done by the Indian government prior to any researcher involvement. Prior to an election, village council positions in a district were randomly assigned across three lists to ensure some positions are reserved for disadvantaged minorities: Reserved for scheduled castes (SC), Reserved for scheduled tribes (ST), and Unreserved. Within a list, village councils are ordered by serial number. In 1998, every third council starting with number one on each list was required to be reserved for a woman. In 2003 every third council starting with number two on each list.
Was the treatment clustered?
Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
13,210 individual survey respondents (6,642 male, 6,568 female)
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Never reserved: 222 villages
Only 1998: 108 villages
Only 2003: 105 villages Both 1998 and 2003: 60 villages
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
MIT Committee on the Use of Humans as Experimental Subjects
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post Trial Information
Is the intervention completed?
Intervention Completion Date
December 31, 2003, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Data Collection Completion Date
May 31, 2008, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
Never reserved: 222 villages
Only 1998: 108 villages
Only 2003: 105 villages
Both 1998 and 2003: 60 villages
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
We exploit random assignment of gender quotas for leadership positions on Indian village councils to show that prior exposure to a female leader is associated with electoral gains for women. After ten years of quotas, women are more likely to stand for, and win, elected positions in councils required to have a female chief councilor in the previous two elections. We provide experimental and survey evidence on one channel of influence - changes in voter attitudes. Prior exposure to a female chief councilor improves perceptions of female leader effectiveness and weakens stereotypes about gender roles in the public and domestic spheres.
Beaman, Lori, Raghabendra Chattopadhyay, Esther Duflo, Rohini Pande, and Petia Topalova. 2009. "Powerful Women: Does Exposure Reduce Bias?" The Quarterly Journal of Economics 124(4): 1497-1540.
REPORTS & OTHER MATERIALS