Impact on Voters’ Taste: Reservation did not, in the short run, alter voter taste for female leaders. All villagers exhibited a strong implicit same-gender preference: women associated female names and images of female leaders with positive attributes on the IAT, while men associated male names and images with positive attributes. However, both genders exhibited an explicit preference for male leaders. Male villagers in never-reserved villages rated male leaders 1.45 points higher than female leaders on a ten-point scale. Among female villagers the difference was smaller (0.56 points), but still significant. Reservation did not improve the implicit or explicit distaste for female leaders—in fact, the relative explicit preference for male leaders was actually strengthened in villages that had experienced a quota.
Impact on Perceptions of Effectiveness: While reservation did not make male villagers more sympathetic to the idea of female leaders, it caused them to recognize that women could lead. Repeated exposure to female leaders changed villagers’ beliefs on female leader effectiveness and reduced their association of women with domestic activities. Evaluations of female pradhans in villages reserved for the first time were significantly worse than those of (predominantly male) pradhans in never-reserved villages. In contrast, in twice-reserved villages, evaluations of female pradhans were indistinguishable from those of pradhans in never-reserved villages. Reservation also reversed the bias in male villagers’ ratings of the effectiveness of a hypothetical female pradhan: men in villages that had been reserved actually rated the effectiveness of a hypothetical female pradhan above that of a male pradhan. Exposure to a female leader also significantly reduced male villagers’ association of leadership activities with men.
Impact on Electoral outcomes: The reservation policy significantly improved women’s prospects in elections open to both sexes, but only after two rounds of reservation. Villages that had one previous round of reservation were not significantly more likely to elect a female pradhan than never-reserved villages. However, villages that had been previously reserved twice were more likely to elect female leaders. In unreserved elections, women were elected pradhan in around 10 percent of villages with no prior history of reservation, 13 percent of villages that had been reserved once, and 17 percent of villages that had been reserved twice.