Quotas Matter: The Impact of Gender Quota Laws on Work-Family Policies with Ana Catalano Weeks

April 6, 2017

Do gender quotas matter to policy outcomes, or are they just `window dressing'? In this seminar, Ana Catalano Weeks discusses her findings from one of the first studies of the relationship between quota laws and policy outcomes across countries. She argues that after a quota law, we should expect to see change on issues characterized by gender gaps in preferences, especially if they lie off the main left-right (class-based) dimension in politics -- like maternal employment. She finds that implementing a quota law increases public spending on child care (which encourages maternal employment) and decreases spending on family allowances (which tends to discourage it). Evidence from fieldwork in Portugal and Italy suggests that quotas work by increasing women's leverage within parties and raising the overall salience of gender equality issues with the public and male party elites.

Ana Catalano Weeks, WAPPP Fellow; College Fellow, Department of Government, Harvard University  



Climbing the Ladder: Gender and Careers in Public Service with Amy E. Smith

February 16, 2017

While gender equity is a core value in public service, women continue to be underrepresented in the top-level of leadership of public sector organizations. Existing explanations for why more women do not advance to top leadership positions consider factors, such as human and social capital, gender stereotypes and beliefs about effective leadership, familial expectations, and work-life conflict. Such studies, largely based on private-sector organizations, focus on why women do not reach top leadership positions rather than trying to understand how, or why, some women do. In this seminar, Amy Smith discusses findings from a multi-method study examining career histories of women and men who have reached the top-level of leadership in U.S. federal regulatory organizations. Her analysis identifies a typology of career paths for women and men in public service.  Amy finds that while both women and men assert personal and professional qualifications to legitimize their claims to top leadership positions, they do so in different, possibly gendered, ways.

Amy E. Smith, Associate Professor of Public Policy and Public Affairs, McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, University of Massachusetts Boston


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


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


What Works: Gender Equality, By Design

September 10, 2015

With gender equality increasingly a business imperative, in addition to being a human right, many leaders across the sectors wonder how we can get there. In the first WAPPP Seminar of 2015-16, Professor Bohnet discusses her forthcoming book "What Works: Gender Equality, By Design" (Harvard University Press 2016). Reviewing the impact of what we have been doing to date, including diversity and leadership trainings, networking, and mentorship/sponsorship programs, Bohnet proposes a new approach to leveling the playing field. Building on insights from Behavioral Economics, she argues that to overcome gender bias in organizations and society, we should focus on de-biasing systems—how we evaluate performance, hire, promote, structure tests, form groups—rather than on trying to de-bias people. Speaker: Iris Bohnet, Professor of Public Policy; Director, Women and Public Policy Program, Harvard Kennedy School


It Takes a Family and a Country: Cross-National Effects of Non-Traditional Gender Role Models on Gender Inequalities at Work and Home with Kathleen McGinn

April 9, 2015

How does exposure during childhood to non-traditional gender role models—working mothers and female parliamentarians—shape men’s and women’s outcomes at work and at home? Across 25 countries, women, but not men, exposed to non-traditional gender role models during childhood are more likely to be employed, more likely to hold supervisory responsibility if employed, and earn higher wages than women whose mothers were home full time. At home, exposure to non-traditional models increases the time men contribute to housework and caring for family members and decreases the time women spend on housework. This research exposes the power of non-traditional gender role models within families and countries as critical factors for reducing gender inequality in labor markets and households around the globe. SPEAKER: Kathleen L. McGinn, Cahners-Rabb Professor of Business Administration; Chair, Doctoral Program, Harvard Business School


Gender and Ethnicity in Parliamentary Representation with Liza Mügge

December 9, 2014

How does race and gender intersect in a European context and play out in parliamentary representation? While under-representation of both women and ethnic minorities has received considerable attention, European research traditionally has treated women and ethnic minorities as internally homogeneous and conceptually separate groups. Inspired by research on political representation in the U.S., Liza Mügge investigates parliamentary inclusion and exclusion based on the interactions of gender and ethnicity in the Netherlands. By conducting interviews with ethnic minority members of parliaments and analyzing national policy agendas, Mügge examines how institutional and contextual factors, such as backlash against multiculturalism and feminism, affect political representation in the Netherlands. Speaker: Liza Mügge, WAPPP Fellow, 2014-2015; Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Amsterdam


Women and Power: Hard to Earn, Difficult to Signal, and Easy to Lose with Victoria Brescoll

August 21, 2014

Although women have made great in attaining positions of power in recent decades, there still remains barriers to women in not only continuing to attain these positions, but also in maintaining them. Women face different challenges than men in the quest for leadership roles and their ability to hold onto these positions. For women, power can still be hard to earn, difficult to signal to others (once power is attained), and, in certain circumstances, easy to lose. Gender stereotypes—our beliefs about what men and women are like—continue to shape our perceptions of women and can ultimately impede women’s progress in gaining, exercising, and maintaining power and leadership. My research on women and the precariousness of their power has examined women in top leadership roles (e.g., the United States Senate), experiments in the lab, and interviews with women who have managed to navigate the challenges of being in leadership positions. Speaker: Victoria Brescoll, WAPPP Fellow; Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior, Yale School of Management


More Women Can Run with Kira Sanbonmatsu

August 21, 2014

Sanbonmatsu discusses her new book (coauthored with Susan J. Carroll), titled “More Women Can Run: Gender and Pathways to the State Legislatures,” (Oxford University Press, 2013). Analyzing nationwide surveys of state legislators conducted by the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), the book advances a new approach for understanding women’s election to office, challenging assumptions of a single model of candidate emergence and the necessity for women to assimilate to men’s pathways to office. For example, Sanbonmatsu asserts that a model of candidate emergence based on relationships and networks better captures women’s decision-making than an ambition framework in which candidacy is self-initiated. More women can run if more efforts are made to recruit women of varying backgrounds. This research also examines party differences and the reasons that Democratic women are outpacing Republican women. Speaker: Kira Sanbonmatsu, Professor, Department of Political Science, Rutgers University


Uncovering the Origins of the Gender Gap in Political Ambition: Early Life Experiences, Political socialization, and Candidate Emergence with Jennifer Lawless

August 21, 2014

Research on women’s candidate emergence identifies a substantial gender gap in political ambition that is well established by the time women and men enter the professions from which political candidates ten to emerge. More specifically, women are one-third less likely than men—even when they are matched professionally, educationally, and politically—ever to have considered running for office. Yet no empirical research has examined thoroughly the origins of the gender gap in political ambition or the relationship between early socialization and interest in running for office. Based on a new national survey of 4,000 high school and college students, we identify the initial causes of the gender gap in political ambition, which is a prerequisite to closing it. Ultimately, our results speak to the gender dynamics of powerful socializing agents, and allow for an assessment of the likelihood that our political institutions will reach gender parity. Speaker: Jennifer Lawless, Associate Professor, Department of Government, American University