Once women gain leadership roles they change the way policy is created.  

In 1985, Grace Saltzstein found a strong statistical significance between the presence of a female mayor and the proportion of female administrators, managers and other non-clerical positions.  There was not only an increase in the number of women working in government, but also a substantive shift in the roles they were playing in the administration.  Once some women had a leadership role, other women were more likely to participate and to take on more leadership-related roles.

As women take on these positions of greater authority, they change the internal work processes as well. Fox and Schuhmann, in a 1999 study of 435 female and 440 male city managers across the United States, found that there are clear differences in policy processes between female and male-lead municipalities.  They found that female city managers were more likely than their male colleagues to:

Similarly in 2003, Abelson et al. found women are more likely to operate in a collaborative fashion and to seek input from others. Women are also more likely to be considerate of the opinions and satisfaction of those around them.  These aspects of women’s leadership make them ideal for societies where citizens feel disconnected from their elected officials as they include greater public participation and increase the transparency of the process by engaging with citizens.  

While women’s leadership is shown to be more inclusive, it does not suffer from a lack of efficiency.   In the private sector, research by McKinsey shows that women’s equality and involvement is good for business.  They found that increasing women’s leadership roles increases organizational effectiveness, and estimated companies with three or more women in senior management functions score higher in all dimensions of organizational effectiveness.

Building on this last point, female politicians are not weak on, or bad for, the economy.   There are economic advantages to increasing women’s political representation: developing countries with higher levels of gender equality in their political institutions tend to have lower poverty rates and higher gross domestic products.  A 2007 study by Catalyst examined Fortune500 companies and the effects of having female board members.  They concluded that companies with the highest representation of female board directors attained significantly higher financial performance, on average, than those with the lowest representation of female board directors.  Furthermore, companies with three or more female board members showed significantly stronger-than-average performance.   These findings are just the most recent in a long line of economic development research that have found the presence of females in decision-making positions to have beneficial consequences.

Researchers at the World Bank examined the rates of corruption in government against the participation rate of women in government. Their findings showed an eight percent increase in the number of women in parliament should result in a twenty percent decrease in corruption levels.[1]  Also, it has been found that governments are seen to be more legitimate when the rate of women participating in elected office approaches or replicates the rate of women in the general public. 

In conclusion, women need to be involved as a simple matter of representation – they constitute more than half of Indonesia’s population, but consistently comprise less than 20 percent of its parliament. Women bring specific benefits, from different policy priorities, to more inclusive processes, to advantages in economics and anti-corruption.

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