How to Elect More Women: Gender and Candidate Success in a Field Experiment with Jessica Robinson Preece

October 20, 2016

Women are dramatically underrepresented in legislative bodies (supply), and most scholars agree that the greatest limiting factor is the lack of female candidates. However, voters’ subconscious biases (demand) may also play a role, particularly among conservatives. In this seminar, Jessica Preece discusses her findings from a field experiment conducted in partnership with a state Republican Party. She finds that party leaders’ efforts to increase both supply and demand (especially both together) result in a greater number of women elected as delegates to the statewide nominating convention. Her field experiment shows that simple interventions from party leaders can influence the behavior of candidates and voters, which ultimately leads to a substantial increase in women’s electoral success.

Jessica Robinson Preece, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Brigham Young University; Co-director, Gender and Civic Engagement Lab


Consequences of Value Threat: The Influence of Helping Women on Female Solos’ Preference for Female Candidates with Michelle Duguid

October 13, 2016

There is an assumption that placing women in organizations’ high-status groups will be instrumental in the further diversification of their group. However, research has demonstrated that women, who are often sole representatives of their gender in high-status groups (solos), do not support female candidates trying to gain membership. As a result, management may look to female incumbents who have voluntarily helped other women in the past, although these female solos may actually feel licensed to give up the opportunity to select female candidates. In this seminar, Michelle Duguid examines experimental studies demonstrating that value threat underlies female solos’ decisions in the selection of a female candidate. For example, in situations where women experience less value threat, such as when they are majority group members or when they feel valued by their group members, they are more likely to favor a female candidate.

Michelle Duguid, Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior, Olin Business School, Washington University in St. Louis


The Right to Rule and the Rights of Women in Victorian Britain with Arianne Chernock

October 6, 2016

Historians have long suspected that Queen Victoria’s gender played a role in the rise of constitutional (e.g. ceremonial) monarchy in 19th-century Britain. But what was the nature of this role? In this seminar, Arianne Chernock takes on this question through an archival-based approach by exploring Victoria’s centrality to the early women’s rights movement in Britain – especially in inspiring women to demand the right to vote. Chernock argues that recognizing Victoria’s role in the women’s rights movement allows us to see the shift towards a more restricted Crown as an attempt to contain radical thinking about women, agency, and power to create a more democratic and transparent British state.

Speaker: Arianne Chernock, Associate Professor, Department of History, Boston University


Making Gender Targets Count: Time for G20 Leaders to Deliver with Gabriela Ramos

September 23, 2016

In this seminar, Gabriela Ramos shares how the target to reduce the gender gap in labor force participation in G20 countries was agreed. Furthermore, she discusses how the OECD contributed by providing evidence on the business case for gender equality, highlighting the support from major countries and leaders. Ramos references the value of the OECD Gender Strategy to achieve this outcome, as it has been building strong evidence and international comparisons on the three domains it covers: education, employment, and entrepreneurship. She also covers the main policies to reduce the gaps in these domains. The main objective is that the OECD's Gender Strategy promotes family-friendly policies and greater well-being for both women and men.   Finally, Ramos explains how to ensure effective implementation by monitoring progress in the implementation of the OECD gender recommendation and the G20 target.

Speaker: Gabriela Ramos, OECD Special Counsellor to the Secretary-General, Chief of Staff and Sherpa to the G20


Blurring the Boundaries Between the Social and Commercial Sectors with Lakshmi Ramarajan

September 22, 2016

This seminar explores how gender is enacted by founders of social ventures. In particular, Lakshmi Ramarajan looks at how female social venture founders conform to cultural beliefs about gender-appropriate activities and how this conformity may be reinforced or disrupted by characteristics of the environment in which they are embedded. She argues that the trend towards the use of commercial activities in social ventures is inconsistent with cultural beliefs about gender for female founders of social ventures. Using data on 590 new U.S.-based social ventures during 2007-2008, Ramarajan examined the conditions under which commercial activities are more or less likely to be used by female founders. Results show that female founders of social ventures are less likely to use commercial activities than male founders and that the social venture founders’ local community context moderates this effect in two ways: the prevalence of women-run businesses in the social venture founder`s local community weakens the enactment of gender, while the influence of gender on the use of commercial activities is stronger when the intended beneficiaries of the social ventures are local.

Speaker: Lakshmi Ramarajan, Assistant Professor of Business Administration, Organizational Behavior Unit, Harvard Business School


Protection from Gender Violence as a Civil Right with Kristin Bumiller

September 15, 2016

In this seminar, the recent efforts by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) to enforce Title IX policy are considered in the broader context of unsuccessful attempts to establish protection of sexual violence as a civil right in the United States. OCR enforcement has stimulated both praise for its bold determination to address an epidemic of sexual violence on college campuses and criticism for its capacious exercise of administrative power. Bumiller reframes this debate by considering how these regulatory measures are a new chapter in a varied and complex story about the effectiveness of public enforcement of civil rights statutes through the combination of administrative and judicial action. Her work questions whether over reliance on public agency enforcement potentially weakens the participatory and democratic effects of private action. She also examines how current federal regulations regarding Title IX continue a pattern that over emphasizes criminal justice priorities.

Speaker: Kristin Bumiller, George Daniel Olds Professor in Economic and Social Institutions; Chair of Political Science, Amherst College


Rape During Civil War with Dara Kay Cohen

September 8, 2016

Rape is common during wartime, but even within the context of the same war, some armed groups perpetrate rape on a massive scale while others never do. In this seminar, Dara Kay Cohen discusses her new book, Rape during Civil War, and examines variation in the severity and perpetrators of rape using an original dataset of reported rape during all major civil wars from 1980 to 2012. Cohen also conducted extensive fieldwork, including interviews with perpetrators of wartime rape, in Sierra Leone, Timor-Leste and El Salvador. Combining evidence from these interviews with statistical analysis of the quantitative data, Cohen argues that armed groups that recruit their fighters through the random abduction of strangers use rape—and especially gang rape—to create bonds of loyalty and trust between soldiers. Results from the book lay the groundwork for the systematic analysis of an understudied form of civilian abuse, and will be useful to policymakers seeking to understand and to mitigate the horrors of wartime rape.

Speaker Dara Kay Cohen, WAPPP Faculty Affiliate; Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School


The Long-run Effect of Maternity Leave Benefits on Mental Health: Evidence from European Countries with Lisa Berkman

April 7, 2016

Maternity leave policies have known effects on short-term child outcomes. However, little is known about the long-run impact of such leaves on women’s health as they age. This seminar examines whether maternity leave policies have an effect on women's mental health in older age. Data for women age 50 years and above from countries in the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) are linked to data on maternity leave legislation from 1960 onwards. A difference-in-differences approach that exploits changes over time within countries in the duration and compensation of maternity leave benefits is linked to the year women were giving birth to their first child at age 16 to 25. Late-life depressive symptom scores of mothers who were in employment in the period around the birth of their first child were compared to depression scores of mothers who were not in employment in the period surrounding the birth of a first child and, therefore, did not benefit directly from maternity leave benefits. The findings suggest that a more generous maternity leave during the birth of a first child is associated with reduced depression symptoms in late life. This seminar explores how policies experienced in midlife may have long-run consequences for women’s health and wellbeing.


Lisa Berkman, Thomas D. Cabot Professor of Public Policy and of Epidemiology; Director, Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, Harvard. T.H. Chan School of Public Health


Can Professionally-employed Mothers Have It All? An Examination of the Relationship Between Social Support, Self-efficacy and Turnover Intentions of First-time Mothers with Jamie Ladge

March 31, 2016

The return to work following the birth of a first child is often a period of time when new mothers are working towards mastering the tasks associated with caring for an infant and managing their workplace demands.  New mothers may consider leaving their organization if they question their ability to either effectively perform their job or their parenting roles.  Drawing from social support and social comparison theories, this seminar explores how supportive work environments shape new mothers’ turnover intention.  Using a sample of 695 new mothers who had recently returned to work following the birth of their first child, Ladge finds evidence that perceived manager support and role models who portray work and family balance influence both job and maternal self-efficacies, which contribute to new mothers’ turnover intentions.

Speaker: Jamie Ladge, Associate Professor of Management and Organizational Development, D’Amore-McKim School of Business, Northeastern University


Laboratory Evidence of the Effects of Sponsorship on the Competitive Preferences of Men and Women with Katie Coffman

March 9, 2016

How can women get ahead in competitive fields? One proposed way is through sponsorship programs – where a person (the sponsor) advocates for a protégé, and in doing so, takes a stake in her success. While these types of programs have received popular attention, little empirical evidence exists on their effectiveness. Coffman uses a laboratory experiment to explore two channels through which sponsorship has been posited to increase advancement in a competitive workplace. In the experimental setting, being sponsored provides a credible signal of one’s ability and/or creates a link between the protégé’s and sponsor’s payoffs. She finds that both features of sponsorship significantly increase willingness to compete among men on average, while neither of these channels significantly increases willingness to compete among women on average. Similarly, sponsorship has a directionally more positive effect on the earnings of male protégés than female protégés. Therefore, sponsorship does not close the gender gap in competitiveness or earnings. This seminar will explore how these insights from the laboratory could help to inform the design of sponsorship programs in the field. Speaker: 

Katie Coffman, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, Ohio State University