Jessica Preece, Political Science, and Olga Bogach Stoddard, Economics
Evaluation of how well the academic objectives of the proposal were met
The purpose of this proposal was to fund a field experiment that examined the ways in which political parties could increase women’s desire to run for office (their “political ambition”). Specifically, we worked with the Utah County Republican Party1 to organize a “Prospective Candidate Information Seminar” to which they invited over 11,000 active party members. However, there were several versions of the invitation that made different kinds of appeals (to civic duty or by talking about the part-time nature of political positions in Utah, for example).
As researchers, we were interested in the response rates to the various versions of the invitation. Each invitation had a unique code that the invitee used to log in to the event website and then register for the seminar; this allowed us to track response by individual. Because the individuals were assigned to receive their version of the invitation randomly, we are able to confidently infer that it is the content of the specific appeal that increased or decreased response rates between conditions.
In the end, we found few differences in response rate between the invitations. These results are forthcoming in the Journal of Experimental Political Science. However, we found large differences in the response rates of men and women—men were twice as likely to respond as women. These results were surprising because the limited research that exists on this topic suggests that women and men respond similarly to political party recruitment. We combined these findings with findings from another experiment we ran and will submit this manuscript to the American Journal of Political Science, one of the premier journals in the discipline.
This experiment lead to several other experiments. The first was an adaptation of this protocol in Uganda during Summer 2013. We were interested in finding out whether reminding Uganda college students about the quotas set aside for women in government would prompt increased or decreased political ambition among the women. Ultimately, we found that it had no effect. This is important because quotas are controversial, with proponents arguing that they inspire women and opponents arguing that they demotivate women. We will be submitting this manuscript to Politics & Gender in the next several weeks.
Further, the professional relationships with UCRP officials that we developed with the seminar experiment allowed us to run an additional project. This email experiment revealed that women are considerably more competition-averse than men, and this likely contributes to why women are less likely to run for office. This paper is currently under review at the Journal of Business Economics and Organization.
In short, these research projects provided exceptionally good data and will result in a number of publications in excellent political science and economics journals. Though the results were sometimes surprising, they have significantly advanced our understanding of why there are so few women in political office.
Evaluation of the mentoring environment
We sought to create a mentoring environment that fostered collaboration among the student research assistants, as well as between the students and faculty. We did this in two main ways. First, we paired more experienced researchers with newer researchers. The more experienced researchers helped to train and integrate the new hires into the project team. Second, we requested and received temporary office space in the Kimball Tower for the duration of these projects. FHSS Computing Services lent us two computers to use in the office. This created a wonderful environment in which multiple students could be working together on the project and support each other as they completed their tasks.
We also named the research group the Gender and Civic Engagement Lab, designed a logo, and created a website (www.gcel.byu.edu). The website features the student research fellows and gives them an opportunity to highlight their accomplishments to future employers. All of these steps created a real sense of unity and purpose among the students.
List of students who participated and what academic deliverables they have produced or it is anticipated they will produce
- Rachel Fisher: Rachel was the lead research assistant for these projects. She helped with research design, as well as implementation. Most impressively, she was the on-the-ground manager for the Uganda project. She is a coauthor on two of the papers.
- Kali Smith: Kali became the lead research assistant after Rachel graduated. She managed logistics for the UCRP experiments, analyzed data, and contributed text to several of the papers.
- Brandon Betz: Brandon was primarily responsible for data analysis and presentation. His work will be featured in all of these papers.
- Rafa Alfaro: Rafa assisted Brandon with the data analysis and presentation.
- Jessica Weinfurter: Jessica assisted with the implementation of the Uganda project in Kampala. She also contributed research to the manuscripts.
- Madeleine Gleave: Madeleine help design the Uganda experiment. Because she had conducted previous experiments in Uganda, her expertise was invaluable.
- Megan Conrad: Megan assisted with the implementation of the Uganda experiment. She also did extensive research on the history of quotas in Uganda and worked on the Uganda manuscript.
Description of the results/findings of the project
- Specific recruitment messages do not seem matter for encouraging women’s political ambition.
- Politically active women are about half as likely as politically active men to respond positively to political party recruitment.
- Quotas do not seem to either encourage or discourage women’s political ambition.
- Women are significantly more competition averse than men. This likely contributes to why so few women run for political office.
Description of how the budget was spent
These projects were also partially funded by an Emmeline B. Wells Grant, but these are the expenses funded specifically through the MEG grant.
Student wages: $9300
Print and Mail Services for the experimental invitations for both the UCRP and Uganda projects: $9400
Student travel (to Uganda): $1300
1 We also contacted the Democratic Party to see if they wanted to partner with us as well, but they declined.