Female Leadership Raises Aspirations and Educational Attainment for Girls: A Policy Experiment in India

Pande, Rohini; Beaman, Lori; Duflo, Esther; Topalova, Petia (2012)


Pande, Rohini, Lori Beaman, Esther Duflo, and Petia Topalova. 2012. “Female Leadership Raises Aspirations And Educational Attainment For Girls: A Policy Experiment In India”. Science 335 (6068): 582-586.
Exploiting a randomized natural experiment in India, we show that female leadership influences adolescent girls’ career aspirations and educational attainment. A 1993 law reserved leadership positions for women in randomly selected village councils. Using 8,453 surveys of adolescents aged 11-15 and their parents in 495 villages, we find that, compared to villages that were never reserved, the gender gap in aspirations closed by 25% in parents and 32% in adolescents in villages assigned to a female leader for two election cycles. The gender gap in adolescent educational attainment is erased and girls spent less time on household chores. We find no evidence of changes in young women’s labor market opportunities, suggesting that the impact of women leaders primarily reflects a role model effect.