Female leaders and their response to the social environment

Lata Gangadharan, Tarun Jain, Pushkar Maitra, Joseph Vecci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Using data from two sets of experiments conducted in rural India, this paper finds that relative to men, women assigned to be leaders contribute less than what they propose in a public goods game. We examine whether this behavior is influenced by the social environment. We find that female leaders deviate negatively from their proposals more frequently than males, when the gender of the leader is revealed and in villages with a female head assigned through an exogenous affirmative action policy. Women leaders anticipating lower economic and social costs for their actions compared to male leaders are potential explanations for observed gender differences in behavior. Our results suggest that the social environment can influence the behavior and the potential effectiveness of female leaders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)256-272
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019


  • Affirmative action
  • Belief elicitation
  • Gender
  • Governance
  • India
  • Leaders
  • Leadership experiment

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