Does exposure to gender role models increase women’s political ambition? A field experiment with politicians
There is a persistent gender gap in motivations to run for political office. While exposure to role models is widely believed to increase women’s political ambition, there is little field experimental evidence on whether exposure to female politicians in realistic settings can increase political ambition. We conducted a field experiment in which a sample of 612 female students was randomly assigned to receive emails inviting them to an event that included career workshops with female politicians, or no email. The treatment increased interest in the ongoing national election campaign, but, against expectations, did not have any positive effect on political ambition. Our results suggest that female politicians who discuss their experience bluntly, instead of following a motivational script, may fail to motivate other women to pursue a political career. These results highlight the need for more research into the type of events and messages that bring more women into politics.
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