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Discrimination from below: Experimental evidence from Ethiopia

Shibiru Ayalew, Shanthi Manian () and Ketki Sheth

Journal of Development Economics, 2021, vol. 151, issue C

Abstract: Globally, women are underrepresented in leadership positions. A potential explanation is that gender discrimination by subordinates reduces the effectiveness of female leadership. Using a lab-in-the-field experiment in Ethiopia, we test whether leader gender affects the way subjects respond to leadership. We find subjects are ten percent less likely to follow the same advice from a female leader than an otherwise identical male leader. Subjects also give lower evaluations to hypothetical female managerial candidates. However, we find that ability information reverses discrimination. When leaders are presented as highly trained and competent, subjects are more likely to follow advice from women than men. This pattern suggests that beliefs about men and women's ability (i.e., statistical discrimination) play an important role in driving this discriminatory behavior. Our results show that gender discrimination affects adherence to leadership, and signals of ability may be an important tool for gender equity policies aimed at increasing female representation.

Keywords: Gender; Discrimination; Advice; Lab in the field; Leadership (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J7 O1 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2021.102653

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