Public Display of Performance: Information, Female Politicians and Elections in Rural India

Rohini Pande, Mohammed Kamal Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

How can we reduce the barriers to female leadership? Without seeing a woman lead, voters perceive female leaders as risky and are unlikely to elect them. However, once exposed to female leaders, voters are remarkably swift in changing their opinion on female leaders, especially since female leaders outperform male leaders along many dimensions. This raises the possibility that, even absent quotas, voter information campaigns can overcome this information barrier and help female leaders get elected.

Rohini examines whether directly providing information on male and female politician performance can improve electoral outcomes for female candidates in rural India. Her project analyzes whether providing this type of information (1) affects electoral outcomes; (2) affects voter turnout of male and female villagers; and (3) alters the probability that women stand for and win local elections.

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