article by Lori Beaman, Raghabendra Chattopadhyay, Esther Duflo, Rohini Pande, and Petia Topalova

In this study, a group of researchers explores what happens to norms around women when women take on leadership positions in their communities. The evidence they find suggests that having women in positions of power can help erode the bias against them.



We exploit random assignment of gender quotas for leadership positions on Indian village councils to show that prior exposure to a female leader is associated with electoral gains for women. After ten years of quotas, women are more likely to stand for, and win, elected positions in councils required to have a female chief councilor in the previous two elections. We provide experimental and survey evidence on one channel of influence—changes in voter attitudes. Prior exposure to a female chief councilor improves perceptions of female leader effectiveness and weakens stereotypes about gender roles in the public and domestic spheres.


“Powerful Women: Does Exposure Reduce Bias?” Lori Beaman, Raghabendra Chattopadhyay, Esther Duflo, Rohini Pande, Petia Topalova. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Volume 124, Issue 4, November 2009, Pages 1497–1540