Islam, gender segregation, and political engagement: evidence from an experiment in Tunisia
Sarah Sunn Bush and
Political Science Research and Methods, 2021, vol. 9, issue 4, 728-744
The Arab world has historically had limited descriptive representation for women, although that is changing. Will having more women officeholders lead women citizens to become more engaged? Or could it depress engagement due to pervasive gender biases? To answer these questions, this paper uses a nationally-representative experiment in Tunisia. Unexpectedly, people were less likely to want to contact their representatives when primed to think of a mixed-gender group of officeholders compared to an all-women group. This pattern did not vary according to respondents’ gender. Further analyses reveal that the effect was concentrated among Islamists, which is consistent with some Islamists’ support for gender segregation. This finding encourages research examining women's political presence in conservative environments where gender segregation is common.
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