Essays on Gender and Decision Making in Political Economy
Access StatusFull text of the requested work is not available in DASH at this time ("dark deposit"). For more information on dark deposits, see our FAQ.
MetadataShow full item record
CitationParyavi, Maliheh. 2016. Essays on Gender and Decision Making in Political Economy. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation contains three essays that address supply side, demand side and political factors that influence the attitudes and decisions that shape women’s economic and political status. It demonstrates how self-expectations and beliefs about relative ability shaped women’s decisions to lean out of competitive environments when representing others; how descriptive norm nudges that favored women and focused on their gains incited male reactance in hiring; and how in the aftermath of the Egyptian Revolution, Egyptian men updated their attitudes towards women’s role in society.
Essay 1 tackles the supply side by investigating possible factors shaping women’s willingness to “lean in” and compete when having to represent others. This study examined the role that being a ‘representative’ plays in competition behavior of men and women through a laboratory experiment where self-representing and other-representing individuals had to decide whether to enter into a mix-gender tournament that involved performing in a male-typed task. While self-representing men and women exhibited very similar performance and competition behaviors, women ‘representatives’ leaned out. Controlling for differences in performance, female ‘representatives’ were less likely to enter into tournaments than male ‘representatives’ and self-representing women. In addition, female ‘representatives’ did not significantly increase their performance, while male ‘representatives’ experienced a boost in their performance levels as compared to the self-representing men. The leaning out of female ‘representatives’ from competition entry is largely attributed to women setting a higher bar for themselves when charged with representing another individual as compared to self-representing women. Furthermore, compared to male ‘representatives’, female ‘representatives’ were significantly less confident in their abilities, explaining the gender gap in competition entry amongst other-representing individuals.
Essay 2 focuses on the demand side by studying whether descriptive norm information can nudge individuals to make more gender diverse hiring decisions. My co-authors and I conducted a series of laboratory experiments where ‘employers’ decided how many male and female ‘employees’ they wanted to hire for male- and female-typed tasks and examined whether employers were more likely to hire more of one gender when informed that others have done so as well. In this set-up, descriptive norms did not have prescriptive effects. In fact, descriptive norms did not affect female employers’ hiring decisions at all and led to norm reactance and backlash from male employers when informed that others have hired more women. This male reactance was particularly pronounced when the norm’s frame emphasized women’s gains.
Finally, Essay 3 utilizes the tumultuous aftermath of the Egyptian Revolution, to empirically examine changes in gender attitudes of men—individuals who hold the majority of leadership positions in Egypt and play a significant role in determining women’s access to economic and political opportunities. The results revealed that, all else equal, the political crisis in Egypt was highly correlated with men adopting more egalitarian gender attitudes. Support for girls’ university education (i.e. a mostly gender-neutral domain in Egypt) significantly increased only amongst men from financially struggling households and was highly associated with their amplified concerns regarding the availability of suitable employment for women. In contrast, men’s greater confidence in women’s political leadership and support for women’s workforce entry (i.e. both traditionally male domains) was not associated with their increased political or economic grievances, but with the decreased credibility of religious leaders. At the same time, men’s updated gender attitudes do not appear to be part of broader changes in their worldviews towards a more “modern” and “secular” outlook as a result of the failures of the post-Revolutionary religious government. Instead, changes in men’s gender attitudes, particularly with regard to women’s greater involvement in traditionally male domains, seems to reflect acceptance of more favorable treatment of women within Islam.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:33840694
- FAS Theses and Dissertations