Poltical Inclusion of Women and Political Corruption

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Several studies have investigated the relationship between female political representation and actual levels of dishonesty in political offices, seeking to understand whether including more women in the political process actually lessen government corruption (Dollar, Fisman, & Gatti, 2001; Alexander & Bågenholm, 2018; Esarey & Chirillo, 2013; Goetz, 2007; Swamy, Knack, Lee, & Azfar, 2011; Wängnerud, 2012; Stensöta, Wängnerud, & Svensson, 2015). Barnes and Beaulieu (2018) examine why people consider male politicians are more involved in illegal engagements in public offices when it comes to private gain compare to females. Within political institutions, women are deemed marginalized and more risk-averse. Women are more honest and less likely to engage in corruption. Schwindt-Bayer (2010) explores that, in the 1980s, the number of female politicians elected to political offices has increased considerably across Latin America.

The region experienced significant political and socio-economic changes. Women's representation, participation in the perception of democracy and policy-making has increased in the area. Ulbig (2007) studies effects on feelings of political trust concerning descriptive representation of females in municipal government across several U.S municipalities and concludes that there exists a vivid positive description of the legislative belief of women where there exists a much stronger adverse effect on men’s feelings of trust in government. Watson and Moreland (2014) argue that the relationship between women and perceptions of corruption can be understood by the application of an integrated model of representation, that explores the effects of descriptive, formal and substantive representation on perceptions of dishonesty.

Using a time-series study of 140 countries worldwide from 1998–2011, it’s been concluded that women's functional and descriptive representation is correlated with lower perceptions of corruption. Others suggested that the link between corruption and gender is dependent upon regime characteristics. Many studies of women's effects on crime were published before the widespread adoption of gender quotas when levels of female representation were considerably lower. Barnes and Beaulieu (2014) explain that gender stereotypes identify female politicians as more honest, ethical, and trustworthy than men, which are validated by theoretical reasons for expecting women to mitigate perceptions of corruption. Study reveals interesting heterogeneous effects, such as: (1) individuals who are unaffected by shared partisanship are more responsive to gender cues; (2) male respondents are more sensitive to those cues than females.

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These results have potential implications for women running for office, more broadly concerning corruption. Eckel and Grossman (2002) explore the attitude difference between women and men toward many types of risk. Across a variety of decision environments, studies document differences both in the risk tolerance and perception of risk. It’s been concluded that women are particularly averse to circumstances involving potential losses. Public offices are framed to punish deviation from expected behaviors such as dishonesty. To the extent that females are considered less likely to assume the risks associated with official sanctions, they will be recognized as less possible to engage in corruption. Roszkowski & Grable (2005) explore that compare to men, women generally have lower salaries and usually are more risk-averse. Gender stereotypes usually characterize women as more honest, compassionate, ethical, and generally concerned with people’s welfare (Huddy & Terkildsen, 1993; Alexander & Andersen, 1993; Rosenwasser & Dean, 1989). However, politicians are stereotyped as being corrupt (Schneider & Bos, 2011), and when it comes to female politicians, there is mixed evidence as to whether women enjoy the benefit of the true stereotypes assigned to them in political offices.

Evidences suggest that individuals assign gender stereotypes to politicians, with women being viewed as more honest than male politicians (Leeper, 1991; King & Matland, 2003), in political offices and that these stereotypes inform individuals’ evaluations of politicians (McDermott, 1998). For example, Dolan argues that in the wake of scandals and corruption, women are viewed as being able to restore integrity and honesty to the government (Dolan, 2005). Similarly, evidence from a quasi-experiment of telephonic interviews in California shows that respondents who felt ‘government ethics was one of the most critical problems were more likely to prefer the hypothetical female candidate for governor (McDermott, 1998). Similarly, although the presence of female bureaucrats has been shown to reduce suspicions of corruption in bureaucracies such as police offices, Barnes, Beaulieu, and Saxton (2018) show that honesty stereotypes do not affect perceptions that women police officers will successfully reduce corruption and dishonesty. Rosenwasser and Dean (1989) study the feminity of national, state, and local offices by rating all levels of offices. The results imply that female candidates are ranked higher on tasks such as solving issues in the educational system where men are usually found competent in administrative tasks such as fighting terrorism. We can’t deny the changing role of women in political offices.

Several women are entering the workforce, which is quite evident in the political arena. As Hedlund, Freeman, Hamm, and Stein (1979) indicated, women, are more likely to win state and local rather than national political offices. In 1974, around 1,125 women were candidates for the US state legislature compared to 1,808 women in the 1986 election (Mann, 1986). Clark and Clark (1984) considers as traditional those political offices that women have been elected to very frequently in the past few decades. In their study of candidacies in New Mexico, county clerk, secretary of state, county treasurer, state board of education, and county assessor positions were held by women at least 30% of the time in the 1968-1978. Dollar, Fisman, & Gatti (2001) and Swamy, Knack, Lee, and Azfar (2001) suggest that countries with higher representation of females in economic and political life tend to have lower levels of dishonesty. This’s attributed to behavioral difference among males & females. Women are considered less selfish and have more ethical and moral standards than men (Glover, Bumpus, Logan, and Ciesla, 1997; Rivas, 2008; Eagly and Crowley, 1986; Eckel and Grossman, 1998). If one accepts that men are more selfish and align their actions on lower moral standards than women, having women in significant economic and political positions might lead to less corruption.

But, Swamy et al. (2001), argues that the negative relationship between crime & women's participation could be due to self-selection. Only a few women achieve strong positions, and these women possibly belong to the better part of the women's distribution. Goetz (2007) explains that it is gendered access to political positions that explains why men seem to be more corrupt than women. Women are restricted in their opportunities for dishonest behavior. As they are newcomers or only a few in the business and political sphere, unlike men, women lack awareness of the illicit exchange rules to their benefit. They try to assert their position by acting trustworthily and honestly, which leads to fewer corrupt activities by women. The observed relationship between corruption and female representation is spurious. Branisa & Ziegler (2011) suggest that in a factor where social values disadvantage women, neither political improvement towards democracy nor rising the participation of women in economic and political positions might be enough to reduce corruption. Swamy et al. (2001) & Dollar et al. (2001) explain that even if one commands for other factors in the regression, the observed relationship at the cross country level might be due to some unobserved variable, which affects both corruption and female representation.

As per Sung (2003), it might be the political system in the form of liberal democratic institutions that induce both. He also argues that institutions of liberal democracy tend to increase women's participation in government through values like pluralism, equality, tolerance, and fairness. He empirically confirms that the adverse effect of women's representation in government on corruption and dishonesty is spurious and vanishes when one incorporates a measure of democracy in the regression. Another study highlights that when women are in a commanding position, they make decisions that are closely related to women's needs (Chattopadhyay & Duflo, 2004). Swamy et al. (2001) explores the level of discrimination against women as another feasible neglected variable that drives both corruption and women's participation. They conclude that in countries where clientelism & traditions exist, there is a strong preference for men in command. Female political inclusion validates both the power structures and relations that undermine the reflection of women’s requirements and interest in policy-making. Female inclusion in decision-making is a common good in itself and decodes male predominance in politics (Hassim, 2006).

Political participation of women promotes gender equality by challenging the political and social existing structures that preserve a culture of women’s inferiority in both the public and private sphere. Politically, it curbs corruption, increases the number of women in the political offices, promotes the inclusiveness of minority groups in public areas and improves policy outcomes. Economically, it considers women as a significant element of development, encourages the integration of women in the political offices, and promotes development & economic growth. Tripp (2001) studies on women's movements as a countervailing force to prevailing practices of corruption in southern & eastern Africa. At the beginning of the 1990s, political reforms, including competitive & free elections, freedom of expression, and a multi-party system were not enough to give women access to commanding positions and to cut down the practices of clientelism and patronage. Women were excluded from male-dominated networks and hence didn’t receive an advantage of clientelism.

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Poltical Inclusion of Women and Political Corruption. [online]. Available at: <https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/poltical-inclusion-of-women-and-political-corruption/> [Accessed 17 Jun. 2024].
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