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Women’s Economic Empowerment in Ethiopia

Work & Education Ethiopia
Study Context

Globally, women are underrepresented in top management. This especially holds true in Africa, where researchers propose that under-representation may result from discrimination from below: gender discrimination by subordinates makes female leaders appear less qualified relative to an otherwise identical male leader.

Study Design

Using a novel “lab in the field” experiment in Ethiopia, researchers test whether leader gender affects the way subjects respond to leadership.

Results and Policy Lessons

They find evidence for discrimination: subjects are less likely to follow the advice of female leaders, and perform worse as a result. However, when subjects are informed that their leader is highly trained and competent, the gender gap is reversed and subjects are more likely to follow women than men. Findings suggest that subjects are using gender as a proxy for a leader’s ability. They also suggest that information on ability provided by researchers is interpreted differently for each gender. Researchers identify two patterns consistent with this idea: 1) no discrimination in a resume evaluation experiment for a senior management position, and 2) no gender wage gap among the highly educated. Results suggest that discrimination discrimination from below reduces firm performance and is a barrier to female managers, but is ameliorated for those women who succeed in moving up the pipeline.

Timeline

2016 — ongoing

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Global Networks

Discrimination from Below: Female Leadership in Ethiopia

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Slides: Discrimination from Below - Experimental Evidence on Female Leadership in Ethiopia by Shanthi Manian (SEEDEC 2019)

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Video: Experimental Evidence on Female Leadership in Ethiopia - Shanthi Manian (SEEDEC 2019)

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