Gender Bias in Policy Representation in Post-Conflict Societies

Published date01 March 2023
Date01 March 2023
Subject MatterArticles
Political Research Quarterly
2023, Vol. 76(1) 200212
© The Author(s) 2022
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/10659129211045020
Gender Bias in Policy Representation in
Post-Conf‌lict Societies
Daniel M. Butler
, Margit Tavits
, and Dino Hadzic
Do politicians represent the policy preferences of men and women equally post-war? Gender inclusiveness has par-
ticularly high stakes in this context: research shows that it can help sustain peace. We use a series of survey experiments
with politicians (N= 1389) and voters (N= 3049) to study gender bias in policy representation in a post-conf‌lict setting:
Bosnia. We f‌ind a signif‌icant pro-male bias in the policy responsiveness of local politicians (both men and women) to their
constituency preferences. We do not f‌ind evidence that this is because men are more active and vocal about expressing
their policy preferences. Instead, this bias is present in the post-war society mo re generally: politiciansattitudes ref‌lect
the pro-male bias among voters, both men and women. These results have important implications for the study of gender
and post-conf‌lict politics.
conf‌lict, representation, gender, Bosnia, survey experiment
Do political elites in post-conf‌lict countries represent the
policy preferences of men and women equally? Recent
studies show that politicians do not equally represent all
groups of voters, but tend to disproportionally represent
the policy preferences of the highly educated, aff‌luent,
politically active, and white voters (Adams and Ezrow
2009;Enns and Wlezien 2011;Griff‌in and Newman
2005). Other work has demonstrated racial and ethnic
bias in policy representation (Broockman 2013;Butler
and Broockman 2011). Prior research also shows that a
politicians gender inf‌luences their policy agendas (e.g.,
Brollo and Troiano 2016;Chattopadhyay and Duf‌lo 2004;
Schwindt-Bayer 2006), that politicians (particularly men)
tend to be more responsive to the policy preferences of
their co-gender voters (Clayton et al. 2019;Kim and
Michelitch 2019), and that the policy preferences of
male voters are generally getting more attention from
politicians and parties (Griff‌in, Newman, and Wolbrecht
2012;Homola 2019).
We build on this literature and explore gender bias in
policy representation in a post-conf‌lict society. We focus
on a post-conf‌lict setting because research shows that
gender equality in politics has particularly high payoffs in
societies emerging from violent conf‌lict. Most notably,
post-war peace becomes more sustainable when womens
preferences and perspectives are included in the political
decision-making (e.g., Shair-Rosenf‌ield and Wood 2017;
see also Demeritt et al. 2015;Hudson et al. 2009;Koch
and Fulton 2011). Thus, the payoff to identifying gender
bias in post-conf‌lict settings is particularly high.
In studying gender bias, we focus on how much leg-
islators and voters defer to the preferences of men versus
women when choosing what policies to support. While
prior research shows that women enter more public roles
in wartime (Goldin 1991;Wood 2008) and become more
politically active post-war (Tripp 2015), we know rela-
tively little about the extent to which policy representation
in those societies is gender inclusive. Indeed, some re-
search on gender quotas concludes that simply increasing
the number of women serving in off‌ice does not neces-
sarily lead to policy outcomes that are more representative
of womens interests and preferences (e.g., Krook 2016).
Tog et at more substantive outcomes, we estimate the level
Washington University in St. Louis, St Louis, MO, USA
Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Corresponding Author:
Daniel M. Butler, Department of Political Science, Washington
University in St. Louis, 1 Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA.

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